Fertility Flower: Sympto-thermal Charting {review}

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Unfortunately Fertility Flower is no longer an option for those of us who want an online charting service. While it was my favorite, and I’m so sad to see it go, there are other options out there.

*In the heart of full disclosure, I was given a membership to Fertility Flower in order to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own and in no way swayed by product compensation*

Knowing your cycle and knowing your body are both key to pinpointing ovulation and also to diagnosing any issues you may be having with your fertility. I’ve spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out this whole charting thing, and the one thing I’ve found is that I need a program to tell me what’s going on. Filling out the charts at home was less than successful for me. And as someone trying to figure out exactly what her body is doing right now to help balance out hormones, I’ve recently started charting again after an almost 3 year hiatus.

I’m really glad I found the recently launched website, Fertility Flower. The basic membership is free, the premium membership just $40.00 per year!

Now, I’m really gonna sound girly here for a second, but the one thing that drew me in was that “it’s pretty”. What can I say? I want my space online to look good, whether it’s one I own or just one I use.

FertilityFlower.com differs from the standard terrain of fertility charting in a few significant ways, starting with the design of the website. I sought the help of Truro-based PensandPencilsandPens to bring some edginess and creativity to the visual aspects of the project. – Kimberly of Fertility Flower

fertility flower

photo credit: Fertility Flower

I also don’t always remember to chart my temperature each morning, or wake up at the same time each day, so I really like how they show both the temps AND the cervical fluid changes on the same graph. It really helps to see exactly how the two relate to each other and allows you to see your most fertile times by changes in fluid consistency.

As you can see below, the yellow dots are the temperature readings, the blue bars the cervical fluid changes. You also have the ability to compare your charts from month to month on an overlay graph. This can show you any changes in your cycle (especially if you’re trying to improve in one area or another) as well as show you patterns in your cycle.

FertilityFlower.com Charting

photo credit: Fertility Flower

The website is flexible enough to accommodate women throughout their reproductive years. There are three sections, which we call ‘Seed’, ‘Sprout’ and ‘Bloom’, names which are aligned with the garden motif that runs throughout the website.

  1. ‘Seed’ clients are those who have no children and are not currently pregnant.
  2. ‘Sprout’ clients are those who are pregnant with their first child.
  3. ‘Bloom’ clients are women with children.

The idea behind the distinction is that, for example, the experience of pregnancy is very different for the first time mom than it is for someone who’s already gone through a pregnancy and birth, such that our Sprout clients have more in common with each other than they might have with Bloom clients, who may be pregnant with their 2nd, 3rd and 4th child…etc. Similarly, the experience of trying to conceive is different when the client hasn’t had a child – many of our Seed clients have experienced miscarriage and thus worry that they might never become pregnant whereas our Bloom clients (while they may also worry about infertility) know that they are able to conceive and carry a child to term.And while these are apparently three distinct sections, they actually flow together seamlessly. Seed members who become pregnant automatically move into the Sprout section and after giving birth, into Bloom. -Kimberly

I think though, that beyond design, and beyond functionality, the one thing that stood out was the over and above, comprehensive  symptom checker. Not only do you mark down your cycle symptoms, but also your overall health and well being, giving you a holistic view of your body.

Tracking Symptoms on FertilityFlower.com

photo credit: Fertility Flower

It covers everything from ovulation symptoms to your emotional, PMS, pregnancy, dermatologic, autonomic, digestive, illness, loss, and overall well-being symptoms as well. I’ve never seen a charting service this concerned about a woman’s overall health, and this carries over to how they treat pregnancy loss and stillbirths as well; the members receive a message of condolence as well as resources for more information on pregnancy loss and assistance (recommendations for websites on loss, etc).

The personalization of this site and the caring of the owner behind it make me feel even better about giving this charting service a glowing recommendation.

Donielle Baker

Donielle Baker

owner and editor of Natural Fertility and Wellness at Natural Fertility and Wellness
I believe women can learn how to heal their bodies & balance their hormones through natural methods. An advocate for natural health, I have a passion for nourishing/real food nutrition and natural living. My personal background includes both infertility and miscarriage and I started Natural Fertility and Wellness in 2008 in order to share all of the information I found helpful in my journey to heal from PCOS and overcome infertility.
Donielle Baker
Donielle Baker
Donielle Baker
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16 Comments

  1. kc

    Is the site helpful for those avoiding pregnancy at all? I wonder how it compares to fertility friend?

    • donielle

      @kc, very helpful in charting to avoid pregnancy! You can see your fertile times and know when to abstain or use barrier methods if you choose that route.

    • Kimberly @ Fertility Flower

      @kc, the literature on the effectiveness of the Sympto-Thermal Method (like we use at Fertility Flower), show a failure rate of 0.4 pregnancies per 100 women – which is comparable to The Pill. This is when the user abstains during her fertile phase. For couples who opt to remain sexually active during the woman’s fertile phase (using a barrier method, for example), the effectiveness fell to 0.6 pregnancies per 100 women. So the short answer to your question is a resounding, yes – definitely you can use our website to avoid a pregnancy. It’s actually a very effective, evidence-based method to avoid a pregnancy.

      To answer your other question on how we differ from Fertility Friend, there are many of differences – from our policies on charting (Friend strictly forbids its members to use the website to avoid a pregnancy) to our approach with members (which is personal and very accessible)…as well as the attributes that Donielle pointed out in her review and more. There are similarities, too. We both use the sympto-thermal method. We both allow for chart overlay comparisons…etc.

      Hope that sheds some light on your questions 🙂 Great question. I love it that people are moving towards charting as a natural birth control method – something that has been underutilized in the past. But I’m seeing it more and more on the forums, among bloggers as well as among our membership!

      • KC

        I guess I am interested in whether it is “avoiders friendly” (i.e. you don’t feel stupid if you are avoiding instead of trying). It seems like a lot of fertility charting support has more of the focus on trying to conceive. I think I heard that Friend was also more accurate if you were trying to conceive over trying to avoid? I didn’t know that Friend strictly prohibits using their site for avoiding! Ouch! Maybe that’s why they wouldn’t be very accurate for avoiders.

        But yes, I agree that charting is a great way to avoid pregnancy (when done correctly). You are probably not hurting your body as much and are possibly increasing your chances to conceive when you want to. Not only will you be ahead in understanding your body for optimizing the chances to conceive but also I think some people find it harder to conceive after coming off the pill.

        • Kimberly @ Fertility Flower

          @KC, ah – I see. Yes, we’re avoider-friendly 🙂 I’m actually shocked that there are websites out there that WOULD make you feel stupid for charting to avoid a pregnancy.

          As far as charting accuracy, the method is the method. Meaning, nothing changes if you’re trying to avoid a pregnancy rather than trying to conceive. In both cases, the ultimate goal is to figure out when you’re entering a fertile phase. How one chooses to apply that information is entirely up to them, in my estimation.

          At Fertility Flower, members view a Daily Report of their fertility status and with each new report, there’s information for avoiders as well as TTCers. I think perhaps the issue that you’re alluding to in terms of the perceived dip in accuracy when users are charting to avoid is that it simply requires more discipline. For example, if you’re going to abstain during your fertile phase then you need to pay close attention for signs that you are entering your fertile phase and then abstain when you notice your cervical fluid trending towards fertility. If you opt to use barrier methods during your fertile phase, well…all barriers have a failure rate, right? And the ‘opps’ is going to come when you’re at your most fertile.

          But there are huge benefits to charting to avoid. To give you an idea on how this kind of charting works from a personal perspective, I just posted something on the blog this morning re: the use of the sympto-thermal method for birth control. I think the author (it actually wasn’t me who wrote this one) does a great job of explaining how charting to avoid works in her family (btw: a direct link would be helpful here but I feel weird about posting it since this is Donielle’s blog and I have no interest in spamming her(!) But you’ll find it right at the top of our project blog which is accessible from the homepage 🙂

  2. Jenn

    Just to be sure, is this site also a way of helping with natural family planning. My husband and I tried this right after we got married and, well, we are 5 months pregnant after 9 months of marriage. So, could this also be use in the opposite means to help with natural planning to prevent…

    • donielle

      @Jenn, Yes – on the other end of the spectrum, this can be very helpful in preventing pregnancy with the use of natural family planning.

  3. Stacy

    Interesting. This looks even a little more in depth than Fertility Friend which is what I’ve been using. Do you know if there’s any way of transferring the 8-9 months of cycle data from Fertility Friend to this website?

    • donielle

      @Stacy, I’ve gone back at least the last few months of my charts and put them in. 🙂

    • Kimberly @ Fertility Flower

      @Stacy, thanks for the question. It’s an important one as our chief competition has been around for 12 years and so I definitely understand the irritation and would LOVE to resolve it. We looked into finding a way to transfer people’s data with the touch of a button. Unfortunately, anything that we could do (such as build a ‘robot’ that can read other websites) violates the terms of service for pretty much every website, including Fertility Friend. So, unfortunately there’s not much we can do on that count. However, there is a mass data entry tool that allows new members to quickly enter their previous cycles and that’s how many new members get around that issue (some of them with several years worth of data).

      Thanks for the compliment and thanks Donielle for the lovely review!

  4. Tamara Pickens

    Hmm, this looks promising. Hubby and I will probably be TTCing later this year or next year and even though im a member at Fertility Friend, i was really looking for a more holistic view of my cycle and this site seems to provide that. Thanks for sharing!

  5. rhonda

    i have charted for years, unsuccessfully but have never tried a website.

  6. Kristina

    Have you used the software associated with “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” (www.ovusoft.com if you’ve never seen it- not an endorsement), and if so, how does it compare to that? I noticed that while there are bars for CF, there doesn’t seem to be any data when there’s no CF present- is there a way to enter “dry” days and see them on the chart vs. just an absence of data (didn’t check that day)? Also, does this take into account vaginal sensation and/ or cervical position? Is it possible to add your own symptoms/ extras to track, or are the presets all there are? Is there a way to enter temperature taken not at a normal time, but exclude it from the calculations? Does this software estimate an ovulation date, or just identify fertile periods, and is there a way to change when a “fertile period” starts or change the rules based on differing circumstances (breastfeeding, pre-menopause, etc)?

    Um, I clearly have a lot of questions. I actually have more. I am part of a site devoted to support of women using Fertility Awareness, and am always on the lookout for good software, but it has to be really good for me to recommend it. Oh, and maybe I missed it, but what exactly is the difference between the free membership and the $$ one?

    • Kimberly @ Fertility Flower

      @Kristina, great questions! It’s probably best if I just attend to them in bullet point format.

      CF: members are prompted to enter CF or the absence of it (dry) but the system will graph only when there is something there – meaning, non-dry days. The rationale is that there is no ovulatory significance to dry days. Ultimately we wanted to visually emphasize the relationship between cervical fluid and the temperature shift. While the two are not causally related, they are temporally related. So that’s the thinking behind that….

      Vaginal sensation and cervical position are both included on the data entry input form and display when members mouse over a particular data point.

      Adding symptoms/other trackables: absolutely possible! While the preset trackables can’t be deleted, you are free to add to that list.

      Excluding temps: we call it ‘discarding’ but yes, you can enter a temp and exclude it. It will chart but the line will not pass through that data point. Likewise, if you note that you have a fever, the system will automatically discard that data point and it will be plotted in red instead of black.

      Estimating ovulation date: yes, it does that too. Those days are noted on the calendar function as 5 days of light green circles. When new members come on board (and thus don’t have any data in the system), their projected ovulation is based on a combination of their usual cycle length and the fact that the average luteal phase is 12 to 16 days. Once members have a cycle or two in the system, the algorythm predicts ovulation based on the actual average length of the members’ cycles which might vary a little for some people or a lot in other cases.

      The ability to change the settings/rules: no, not exactly. When we launched, our system was set to be very sensitive and allowed for quite a lot of rule bending. We did that until we had enough real users interacting with the system so that it could start ‘learning’ how this functions in the real world. We aren’t textbooks – we’re real people that don’t always follows the rules. Little by little, the system began to learn the typical parameters. Now, after over a year of beta testing it is still learning but at lesser rate and so the rules are more set. There are women who used the website in the beginning who wrote to me saying that the ‘looser’ version of the website worked a little better for them. In fact, I had one member who told me that we picked up ovulation when ovusoft didn’t! For those members, we are working (it’s being tested right now) on an alternate mode for Fertility Flower. The underlying rules are the same, there is just more ‘fuzziness’ around them (for lack of a better term).

      We approach charting under special circumstances (postpartum, etc) as a learning opportunity. What the member will experience around ovulation still holds tight to the usual rules – the difference really is that there is a whole host of other attributes associated with charting in these periods that can sort of cloud the picture. For example, members who’ve recently given birth can experience periods of wet, even fertile (seeming) cervical fluid and not ovulate as their body is gearing up/resumes cycling. We don’t see that as something requiring another setting within the system. We write blog posts and FAQs and guests posts, etc to let women know that they should treat these periods of wet cervical fluid as potentially fertile (because they should) but realize that ovulation might not happen for several weeks or months even, given the circumstances. We treat it as a consciousness raising point rather than an altered state – does that make sense?

      Finally, the difference between the basic (free) membership and the premium one lies in the tools available. Premium members have a suite of advanced functions available to them (e.g. Cycle stats, cycle averages across time, the ability to compare their charts against each other, etc.). Basic members can still chart their data but won’t have the ability to analyze it. That’s the chief difference.

      If you have other questions, don’t hesitate to contact me. I’m Kimberly – [email protected]

      Great stuff!

  7. Rachel Johnson

    I used to be a member of fertility flower and loved i!!! I was disappointed to find the website not active when I checked it today (I know, it’s been about 3 years since I’ve used it). Does anyone know if Fertility Flower in some form still exists??

    • Donielle Baker

      I actually tracked down he owner last August and she shut it down. 🙁 I was so bummed too!

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