Earlier in the year, IVF babble met a team of experts who were in the process of developing a technology that would assist in enabling women to track their hormone levels in the privacy of their own homes
After five years in development, they recently launched the fertility monitor, mylotus.
Here we speak to one of the team, Erik Henau, about ovulation and how this new piece of technology that will hopefully give us some much needed answers
Erik said: “I have spent the last 22 years of my career in Women’s Health. During that time I was struck by the amount of women with issues trying to conceive and with the large numbers classified as having unexplained infertility.
“We knew that ovulation issues account for a large part of the problems and at the time I was working with classic ovulation tests. Well intended but it was obvious that we failed to help a lot of women with irregular cycles and hormone profiles. To go into a clinic and have your blood taken on a daily basis was not a convenient or economical solution.
“When I joined Concepta, the makers of myLotus, I realised that new technology was finally making it possible for women to get a complete picture of their personal hormone level throughout their cycle. It makes it possible to see a number of possible ovulatory issues or rule them out.
“I have spoken to many women over the years about the struggles and the hardship, and it is the most rewarding and satisfying job to help some of these women to speed up their time to pregnancy.
“myLotus was five years in the making and launched in the UK at the Fertility Show in November. We are entering an accelerated growth phase and we recruited excellent people to take the company forward. This allowed me to step down from the CEO role to continue to focus on what I believe is the most important: making sure that women have explored all possible ways to conceive naturally and to provide them with the information needed to check whether myLotus could be for them.
“NICE fertility guidelines state that one in four infertility cases are related to ovulatory issues
“Most women will be familiar with ovulation tests but the women that would benefit the most from these are the least satisfied. The problem is that classic tests are based on the average woman. It means that the hormone level in your urine is compared to the average level. If you are above then you are in your fertile phase and ovulation could happen in the next 24 to 48 hours. If you are below you are not.
“The ovulation hormone (LH) remains pretty stable before ovulation. Then it rises suddenly and rapidly and can be twice, ten times or more the initial level. After a while it drops down to the initial level. myLotus is the latest generation of fertility monitor. It is unique and gives you information about your personal levels. No comparison with the average women. It’s just about you.
“That means that you will see what your initial hormone level is. You will see this progress in more or less a straight line until it suddenly shoots up. You can’t miss it visually. Whatever your initial level (low or high) you will see what is, for you, your personal hormone surge.
“High levels of the ovulation hormone (LH) tend to be associated with PCOS and until now it has not been possible for these women to test their levels.
“Classic ovulation tests tend to focus on this surge and try to give you more days’ warning (up to six) before it occurs. Again, this should cover about 70 per cent of women who have just one surge. In trials we have seen five per cent of women with no surge (and even they thanked us because they had suspected anovulation but had never been sure). We saw 20 per cent of women with two surges and five per cent with more than two surges. This has been linked with your body thinking that the first follicle you produced was a bit small. Your body then pumps out more hormones to produce another egg that it hopes will be better quality. For some women this is a total surprise as they didn’t even know you could have more than one surge. So basically, don’t just focus on that first surge. Find out whether you are one of the one in four women with more than one surge.
“Another feature of myLotus is that it is easy to see for how many days the surge lasts. Textbooks show you a sharp peak and a sharp drop back but there is a wide variation as to the length of the surge. Research is ongoing as to the significance and implications. At this stage they found that a three-day surge was most linked to the probability of conception during that cycle. Only 37 per cent of women had this profile. Either side of this the probability declines. This is currently just extra information and would show you whether you are in the perceived best profile or not as research has not yet come up with any action that could be taken as a result.
“The myLotus system can be used as a stand-alone product but you can also download an app that lets you record a lot of information and lets you look at graphs and historic data that are useful to yourself or your doctor. An example could be your cycle length over time, how regular or irregular are your cycles, BMI and what is your normal day to see your surge.
“In short, ovulation testing has come of age and is addressing those women that most need it. The information that myLotus provides will hopefully provide a significant amount of women with the ability to speed up the time to conceiving naturally. Alternatively it can be part of the trend, as promoted by Professor Winston, of doing all you can to avoid going for IVF unnecessarily.”