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Fertility apps and your privacy

We examine 12 popular fertility apps to see what they do with the sensitive data they collect.

woman using a pregnancy app
Last updated: 22 March 2023

Need to know

  • Fertility apps often collect extremely sensitive and intimate data, then keep it for too long or share it with others, exposing it to 're-identification' and data breach risks 
  • Their privacy policies are confusing and claims such as 'we never sell your data' are potentially misleading
  • Many apps are not transparent about the data they trade with and collect from other companies.

Fertility apps collect extremely sensitive and intimate data about our cycles, health, pregnancies, and sex lives. 

There is growing concern over the handling of this data, which is often kept for too long (exposing it to data breach risks) and disclosed to other companies on a supposedly 'de-identified' basis (when there are real risks of re-identification).

The apps' privacy policies, messages and settings are often confusing and potentially misleading. An app might claim "we never sell your data", but the fine print might say the whole database can be sold to another company as a business asset. 

An app might claim 'we never sell your data', but the fine print might say the whole database can be sold to another company

And many are not fair or transparent about the data they trade with other companies, including extra information they collect about the consumer from data brokers and the disclosure of your usage data, which can allow companies to predict sensitive information about your health and circumstances.   

What is a fertility app?

We use the term 'fertility apps' to cover mobile apps that assist consumers in tracking their menstrual cycles, ovulation and potential fertile windows if they're attempting to conceive, and stages of pregnancy up to birth.

How we compare

We examined the privacy terms of 12 of the most popular fertility apps used by Australian consumers (taking into account downloads, apps installed and active usage). 

We examined the privacy policies and in-app messages and settings for each of these apps in February and March 2023, to determine the extent to which they protect the consumer's privacy, having regard to the quality of the privacy information and choices they give consumers, and the extent to which they indicate that they restrict the collection, use and disclosure of personal data to limit the risk that the consumer will be humiliated, excluded, exploited or exposed to data breaches.

The privacy policies, messages and settings are often confusing and potentially misleading

We did not include apps that depend on the consumer buying a wearable device, like an Apple watch or a FitBit, that tracks biometric data directly using sensor technology; or apps that track a baby's development from birth. These raise different and important issues, which deserve to be considered separately.

We have grouped the apps into three categories – apps to avoid, apps to be cautious of and one that stands out from the others but could still be improved. 

Apps to avoid 

babycenter app logo


BabyCenter is a pregnancy app that was bought by Everyday Health Inc, which also owns the What to Expect app. This is why their privacy policies are identical and equally focused on sharing users' data for profit. Everyday Health Inc is owned by US marketing technology company, Ziff Davis, which includes its tracking technologies in the app.

glow fertility glow nurture and eve by glow app logos

Glow Fertility, Glow Nurture, Eve by Glow 

Glow Inc operates several apps, which allow users to track their periods, sex lives, and pregnancies. Glow's privacy terms and settings generally indicate that it gives users less privacy by default to serve its commercial purposes.

In 2020, Glow settled a lawsuit brought by the Attorney General of California alleging breach of medical privacy and data security laws concerning "clear basic security flaws that put its users' data at risk".

ovia fertility and ovia pregnancy app logos

Ovia Fertility and Ovia Pregnancy

The Ovia ovulation and pregnancy apps are owned by a company that is part of the US drug development corporate group, Labcorp.

The apps ask for remarkably wide-ranging and sensitive information in its "Health Questionnaire" and sell "de-identified" health information to other companies.

what to expect app logo

What to Expect 

What to Expect is a pregnancy app owned by Everyday Health Inc, which later bought the BabyCenter app. This is why their privacy policies are identical and equally focused on sharing users' data for profit. Everyday Health Inc is owned by US marketing technology company, Ziff Davis, which includes its tracking technologies in the app.

Apps to approach with caution

clue app logo


The Clue app is renowned for its founder's goal to use the health data collected for research purposes. 

It collects extensive highly personal information, such as data about reproductive health conditions, masturbation, use of sex toys, orgasms and painful intercourse, and does not give confidence that this information will be adequately de-identified before it is disclosed to others.

flo health app logo

Flo Health 

Flo is the most popular fertility app in Australia and invests heavily in advertising that it respects your privacy. The app developer faced a complaint by the US Federal Trade Commission in 2020 alleging it misled consumers regarding privacy practices, which led to two class actions against it in the US. 

The app is now operated by a company of the same name subsequently set up in the United Kingdom by the same founder as the US company. 

While Flo settled the complaint brought by the US Federal Trade Commission regarding alleged privacy breaches and denied wrongdoing, we await the outcome of the US class actions that allege Flo made misrepresentations about its data sharing with Google and Facebook. 

period calendar app logo

My Calendar

My Calendar provides some options that can assist users in protecting their privacy, but it takes a disturbingly hands-off approach, for example by claiming that it is "not responsible for circumvention of any privacy settings or security measures". (It should be responsible if it has not taken reasonable steps to secure your data.)

my calendar app logo

Period Calendar 

Period Calendar is one of three apps marketed by Hong Kong-based Abishkking Ltd, "a fitness and health mobile apps development company". It provides some options that can assist users in protecting their privacy, but diminishes users' privacy in other ways, for example by sharing revealing usage data with Google Analytics, which can be used for Google's "own advertising network".

period tracker app logo

Period Tracker

Period Tracker is sold by GP Apps, which provides only a vague, brief privacy policy. Other companies collect data via the app about the way you use the app, which could include information about whether you join various "Groups" that reveal your health conditions.

pregnancy app logo


The Pregnancy+ app is owned by a company in the Philips Avent consumer goods group. Philips creates a profile of your preferences, behaviour and characteristics from tracking your activities in the app and says this profile is disclosed to other companies such as its "affiliates".

WomanLog app logo


It’s difficult to find much information on WomanLog because its privacy policy and terms of use are so brief and vague, but it appears to be operated by Latvia-based Pro Active App SIA. The app includes some privacy features, but the very limited information makes us cautious.

Preferred (but not perfect) apps

natural cycles app logo

Natural Cycles 

The Natural Cycles app does not have perfect data privacy terms, but it stands out as an app that makes a real effort to give clear information and choices about your data as you open and set up the app. 

The app is operated by a Swedish company that focuses on reproductive health and is governed by the stricter privacy laws of the European Union. 

Privacy reform urgently needed

Potentially misleading privacy claims and settings in fertility apps deserve scrutiny by our regulators under both the Privacy Act and the Australian Consumer Law. We also need urgent reform of our Privacy Act to protect the highly sensitive information held by such app developers, including:

  • stricter security obligations, such as rules requiring companies to specify a limited retention period after which personal information will be deleted to avoid unnecessary data breach risks and obligations to protect "de-identified" information 
  • a requirement that companies' collection, use and disclosure of our data should always be "fair and reasonable", rather than expecting consumers to try and police companies' data practices themselves
  • clarification that technical identifiers and "usage data" connected to an individual are "personal information" covered by the Privacy Act obligations. 

CHOICE consumer data advocate Kate Bower says "Australia's Privacy Act is woefully out of date and this research shows the potential harms to consumers of not having law that is fit for purpose.

"Stronger consumer protections are urgently needed to ensure that the highly personal and sensitive data collected by these apps is protected and that businesses can't exploit the data for profit."

The research for this project was funded by a grant from the UNSW Allens Hub for Technology, Law and Innovation. You can read the full report here

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.