The health tech every woman should have

Mobile devices can now offer real insight into how, and why, your body is working the way it is

Glow, a fertility tracker app, can be useful if you are recording symptoms and later need details during medical exams.

Glow, a fertility tracker app, can be useful if you are recording symptoms and later need details during medical exams.

 

If there is one thing that we know about mobile devices, it’s that they are so much more than a simple communication device these days. But in the past couple of years, they have also emerged as a complement to health services.

The concept of mHealth services has been kicked around for a while, with everything from blood glucose monitors to blood pressure devices using mobile devices to record results and communicate them. Now we have initiatives such as ResearchKit, a platform that enables doctors and research staff to carry out studies with patients using their mobile phones, and devices that measure everything from heart rate and blood pressure to mapping out your menstrual cycle and all that it entails.

There are some devices that just exist seemingly for the sake of technology – the bluetooth-enabled pregnancy test springs immediately to mind – but there are others that can offer real insight into how, and why, your body is working the way it is.

Fertility trackers

Most of the apps give you the ability to log symptoms such as digestive issues or cramps, trying to build a picture of your symptoms that it could later use to compile a picture of your menstrual cycle.

Changes in body temperature could indicate other medical conditions, such as a thyroid problem or underlying infection.

Apps such as Glow and Clue can prove a useful mine of information if you are recording symptoms and later need details during medical exams.

Even the thermometers are getting more high tech. Kindara’s app works hand in hand with a thermometer called Wink that syncs with the app to record your body temperature automatically.

Heart rate monitors

The Apple Watch, in particular, has already been credited with saving at least one man, who was having a heart attack, and a teenager who had an underlying medical condition, all by detecting abnormal heart rates.

Of course, heart rate monitors in some wearable devices are not medical grade and results would warrant a closer look. The most recent news from this area concerns Fitbit, which has found itself the subject of legal action in the US over claims that its fitness trackers’ built-in heart rate monitors are not accurate.

Kegels

So most of the products that are available are, inevitably, aimed at women. Like the Elvie, which is a portable device that you link with your smartphone and it will track just how good a workout you’re giving the old kegels. It’s geared towards educating women about how to exercise their kegels correctly in short bursts of five minutes or so. Let’s face it, you can’t watch someone to get the perfect form, can you?

Ohmibod, meanwhile, has the Lovelife Krush which, although it sounds painful, actually just measures the pressure and endurance of your kegel muscles as you grip the device. It connects to an app on your phone over bluetooth and guides you through the process.

Breast check

Researchers at Colombia National University are working on a high-tech bra that would help flag anything you should get checked out by a professional. It does it through infrared technology that monitors temperature.

If it finds something abnormal, a small red light will alert you to get checked out. The device is still a way off hitting the market, and it would be designed to work alongside the traditional methods of screening, rather than instead of them, but it could prove to be another weapon in the war against cancer.

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