Alright, ladies--another app is leaving The Great App Debate. On the chopping block this month: Glow.
Glow was an app that I had high expectations for, from the very beginning. Long before I reviewed it for The Great App Debate, I first found out about Glow on Twitter before it was available on the App Store. I was thrilled at the idea. "Finally," I thought, "an app that will allow me to track my fertility signs in a beautifully designed, easy-to-use app with no hearts and pink flowers!!" I watched anxiously for it to be released, and when it was available, I downloaded it immediately. I used it for a few months, and eventually deleted it.
I didn't redownload it until I had to for The Great App Debate. And, in the end, the same things that caused me to delete it the first time around were the same things that led me to oust it from The Great App Debate as well.
Just to be fair, let's start with the pros.
Basically, Glow has its own non-profit crowd-funded fertility treatment plan. It's pretty straight forward: you pledge to pay $50/month for 10 months, and if you're not pregnant at the end, you are eligible to receive grant money to help pay for infertility treatments at an approved clinic. It's a great option for women who aren't sure if they have any infertility problems yet. There, however, are a couple minor caveats to the program:
- You must remain an active user of Glow for the full 10 months (this means logging info regularly)
- You cannot have any preexisting medical diagnoses of infertility/infertility problems
- You must be trying to conceive for less than 10 months (on your honor)
- Your grant will not automatically cover all of the costs of infertility treatments, but will never be less than your initial contributions ($500 total).
The other great thing about Glow is that the app has a large library of information. Some, including myself, find this more clutter-y than helpful, but Glow includes a lot of "tidbits" about everything, ranging from possible PCOS symptoms to why your temperature spikes after you ovulate. If you're new to tracking your fertility signs, you may find this enlightening.
Now (as my friend Nacho likes to say), let's get down to the nitty gritty.
INACCURACY IN GLOW
I tracked my information with Glow for two months, and it was clear to me that even though I knew when I was going to ovulate, Glow had no clue. If you are relying on an app to tell you when you are fertile and when you are not, it's pretty imperative that the app gets this right. Glow misses the boat by a mile. It would tell me I had chance of pregnancy right after my period ended, when my cervix was low & firm and my cervical fluid was dry. For any fertility awareness person who knows anything, that is just laughably inaccurate. No matter how infertile I was, it would always give me a standard 3% chance of pregnancy (more on that next). Consistently, it was the least reliable app for predicting the right information.
It goes without saying that that can make a huge difference when you're trying to conceive.
PERCENTAGE MENTALITY FOR CONCEPTION
It doesn't work that way!!!
If you really wanted to use percentages, the MAJORITY of your cycle would be 0%, and your fertile phase would hold steady at about 25-30%. Instead, Glow's approach seems to indicate that you are always (and I mean always) potentially fertile, and that your chances of conception rise the closer it gets to your ovulation date. The first part is dead wrong--no matter what your OB tells you, there are most assuredly times in your cycle where it is 100% impossible for a woman to conceive, even if she has unprotected sex that day. To be fair, this is obviously different from woman to woman, and can change from cycle to cycle so it requires dedicated attention to your fertile signs. But honestly, it's just not that hard to tell.
So why can't Glow get the hang of it? And if most of our cycle (two thirds at least) is completely infertile, why is Glow telling women they might be fertile? I have the most regular, clockwork cycles and Glow still told me I had a 3% chance during my luteal phase. Again, laughable. Glow needs to stop with this whole "3% maaaaybe you have a shot at it" kind of thing. It's incredibly misleading to women. It lets them believe that they might have a small chance of conceiving, even during sterile times in their cycle. Stop telling women they have a chance when they don't!
The second part, about the increasing chances of conception, is one that is at least partially true. It's true in the sense that of course sperm will have a better shot at fertilizing the egg when it is closer to being released, but the problem with this escalating percentage model is that it leads women to believe that some fertile days are better than others. What if a woman only has intercourse on the days that Glow tells her she is MOST likely to conceive, instead of daily intercourse throughout her fertile period? Mix that with a dose of inaccurate ovulation dates, and you've got the perfect setup to completely miss your chance of conception during any given month.
GLOW BUGS (SEE WHAT I DID THERE?)
Glow is, for the most part, designed extremely well. The app is cohesive and you can tell they have put a lot of effort into getting the app together. That being said, there were a few minor things I noticed that seemed very buggy to me.
For one, it seemed to have a hard time saving my preferences for what I wanted to record in my daily log. I don't smoke or drink. Never have, never will. But when I went to turn them off, they still showed up every day in my tracking log. It wasn't the end of the world to skip over them, but it would have been nice to have it work as promised.
Additionally, sometimes reading my (unnecessary) messages and alerts didn't mark them as read. That red "1" marking my unread alerts was super annoying.
Not a huge deal, but something to keep in mind.
GLOW'S ATROCIOUS BBT CHART
First of all, the BBT chart is not front and center, as it should be, but tucked away under the "Genius" tab (whatever that's supposed to mean) in "Fertility Charts." Tapping on the chart will expand the view to look something like this:
If you can read that as well as a paper chart and find it just as useful, I'll give you five gold stars.
If, like the rest of us mere mortals, you find that chart utterly confusing, welcome to the club. The BBT chart is missing some crucial elements that would go a long way toward its readability.
First of all, there is no clear start and end to one entire cycle. Yes, technically you can look at it from period to period, but it would be nice to have this marked out as individual cycles, instead of one long never-ending cycle loop.
On top of that, the cover line only shows up at certain parts if you scroll, and even when it does, it's not very easy to see as it relates to the rest of the chart. Your cover line is also something that Glow determines for you--so if it's too high or too low, too bad. There's no fixing it.
But don't worry, girls--it doesn't matter if it shows the cover line or not, because it doesn't show you your luteal phase days on the chart portion anyway. It does give you the information in the summary screen below the chart, and while that is helpful, it would be a lot easier to see if it were simply included in the chart (like with Kindara). There is no clear demarkation of your luteal phase on the chart alone, which makes it incredibly difficult to see the different phases of your cycle.
Having the summary only available for one day at a time makes it almost impossible to see and recognize the day-to-day patterns and changes in your cervical fluid and position over the course of your cycle. There is virtually no way to see the gradual progression of an opening cervix and increasing cervical fluid, let alone learn how your body normally transitions from infertile to fertile through the course of your cycle.
Without a clear cover line, beginning & end of the cycle, and a clear markation of your luteal phase and fertile signs, this chart might as well be recording stock market fluctuations. Any woman who hasn't had practice using fertility awareness is going to take one look at this chart and deduce that temperatures must not be that important, because she can't make heads or tails out of the pretty red dots that go up and down.
Glow might as well not have the chart at all. It serves no real purpose other than to say, "Here's all of your temperatures in a graph! You don't know what it means or why it's important, but here it is anyway!" This chart view is completely useless unless you have a lot of experience with fertility awareness--and even then, it's doubtful that it would be helpful in any real way.
should you use glow?
GOOD FOR WOMEN WHO:
NOT FOR WOMEN WHO: