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Cal Poly students design toothbrush fertility tracker to assist in conception process

Courtesy: Janis Iourovitski
A group of Cal Poly students are in the next stages of testing the OvuBrush, a product they designed to help women track their fertility.

A group of Cal Poly students are in the next stages of testing a product they designed to help women track their fertility and conceive.

The fertility tracker is called OvuBrush. It’s designed as a toothbrush that predicts ovulation.

Janis Iourovitski is one of four co-founders of OvuBrush and just graduated from Cal Poly. The group met in a Cal Poly class called Engineering for Maternal Health and were tasked with pitching an idea for healthcare technology to address infertility.

She said that’s how they came up with the toothbrush design. It monitors the changes in a woman’s saliva throughout her menstrual cycle and helps ease the process of fertility tracking by pairing it with something we already do every day.

“There’s a lot of different products on the market like phone apps or bulky wrist watches and different sticks that you pee on. A lot of products are just a hassle to do,” Iourovitski said. “Our goal is to equip women with the knowledge of their fertility window without being a burden to their daily routine.”

Iourovitski said people have been using saliva to track fertility for years. She said the OvuBrush just simplifies it.

The device is different from other fertility tracking methods in that women aren’t required to use it at the same time every day.

Iourovitski still recommends women use the device daily in the morning, but this allows them the flexibility to do things like travel or sleep in on the weekends without having to worry.

She said the accuracy of saliva testing is on par with all of the other fertility tracking methods.

“Current research studies that have been done by Stanford and other universities dating all the way back to the 80s show that it’s more than 90 percent accurate,” Iourovitski said.

She said the exact accuracy of the OvuBrush is something they will learn as they do more user testing.

Iourovitski said about one in eight couples struggle with infertility, so trying to get pregnant can be challenging and anxiety producing. She said alleviating the stress of that process was a big motivator for developing this fertility tracker.

“When we’ve interviewed and surveyed people going through the pregnancy process, they’ve echoed very similar sentiments about how burdensome the entire process is, which is absurd to me,” Iourovitski said. “It’s a natural part of life and families and couples are already under a lot of pressure.”

She said the plan is to bring the OvuBrush to women across the United States after doing more product testing and going through FDA certification over the next several years.

Rachel Showalter first joined KCBX as an intern from Cal Poly in 2017. During her time in college, she anchored and reported for Mustang News at Cal Poly's radio station, KCPR. After graduating, she took her first job as a Producer at KSBY-TV. She returned to the KCBX team in October 2020, reporting daily for KCBX News until she moved to the Pacific Northwest in July of 2022. Rachel spends her off-days climbing rocks, cooking artichokes and fighting crosswords with friends.