Signs of Life

Another device that was released this year, the Knowhen, is effective for women with irregular cycles or medical conditions. The Knowhen is a pocket-sized personal microscope that detects ovulation through a process called ferning.
Each morning, you place a drop of saliva on the lens. After it dries, you look at the pattern through the microscope. The rise in estrogen that precedes ovulation also triggers a rise in sodium chloride in your saliva. When you start the ovulation process, the salt crystallizes into a distinctive fern pattern, visible through the lens.

“I firmly believe that infertility is not an epidemic. It’s a lack of knowledge,” Knowhen founder and CEO Helen Denise said. “Sometimes I meet women who say that something is wrong with the microscope, that they never see the ferning. It’s not the microscope. It’s you. If you have PCOS or a thyroid problem, we can help you diagnose it even earlier or see a doctor in time,” before spending months in fruitless attempts at conception.

People have been using ferning microscopes for a long time, but Knowhen is product that hopes to make the technique more accessible. Placing a drop of saliva on the pocket-sized lens and waiting for it to dry is a simpler and slightly more sanitary method of testing than peeing in a cup while still half-asleep. Timing is also less of an issue. But the Knowhen is also prone to user error. You have to remember to use a spit drop first thing in the morning, before eating or drinking. Failing to clean the lens beforehand, or using a spit drop that has bubbles, can also confound the results.

- See more at: wired