After an unexpected pregnancy nearly killed Helen Denise, the New Jersey-based woman came up with a plan to help other women avoid a similar situation, while also assisting those who were trying to get pregnant: an at-home ovulation testing kit that uses saliva, rather than urine.
Denise, CEO of HiLin Life Products and creator of KNOWHEN, said that when she was 40 she was under the false impression that she couldn’t get pregnant. As a result, she was having unprotected sex with her partner which ended in an ectopic pregnancy. The experience left her shaken and determined to help other women better understand their bodies and fertility cycles.
“Women need to understand their body,” Denise told FoxNews.com. “Many women have no idea about the mystery of ovulation [but it’s] simple if you know what’s going on.”
The reusable kit, which is FDA-certified and boasts a 98.9 percent accuracy rate, identifies the five most fertile days of a woman’s cycle by detecting the level of hormones in the saliva. Dr. Kecia Gaither, a double-board certified OB-GYN who did not work on the development of KNOWHEN, told FoxNews.com that saliva is more accurate than a urine sample because the results are not subject to other chemicals, like alcohol.
When a woman is ovulating and levels of estrogen are elevated, the saliva becomes more saline in composition. To use the test, the user puts a drop of saliva on the kit’s mini-ovulation microscope lens immediately after she wakes up—before brushing her teeth or drinking coffee.
Users can interpret their results by looking at the type of pattern left on the lens by the dried saliva. Women who are not ovulating and are at the least fertile point in their cycle will see dots on the lens, while those who are nearing the beginning or end of their ovulation period will observe a few fern-like patterns. Women who are ovulating will observe defined fern-like patterns on the lens, which signals their most fertile period for the best chance of conceiving a child.
Faith Kirkpatrick, who was in her early 30s when she and her husband decided to start their family, received the kit after a discussion with her mother. Kirkpatrick wasn’t sure if she would have trouble conceiving before they began trying. She used the kit for the first and second month and said the results were pretty accurate and easy to read, but she wasn’t regularly acting on them.
“The next month I was like, ‘OK, we really want it to happen,’” Kirkpatrick, who lives in Westchester, New York, told FoxNews.com. “We were trying all week, every other day, and that was the month we got pregnant.”
Kirkpatrick said the kit helped to alleviate much of the stress that she witnessed some of her friends who weren't tracking their cycle go through. Their daughter is now 2 and Kirkpatrick, 36, said she’s ready to start using the kit again to plan their next pregnancy.
While Gaither, who lives in New York and does perinatal consulting at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Kansas, City, Missouri, said that while the test is a quick and easy at-home tool, it should not take the place of medical care if a woman has any underlying issues. She noted that results may be skewed for women who are obese, have been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), have recently stopped using oral contraceptives or have been taking supplemental estrogen.
Denise said she is thrilled that her product has helped women -- including her own daughter -- get pregnant, but added that it’s also beneficial to women who are trying to avoid pregnancy or determine whether they are experiencing menopause. The kit is available online and currently retails for $49.99. It's planned to hit store shelves early 2017 and includes a free mobile app so that women can log results and monitor their cycle through a simple calendar.
“I feel like I am on a mission,” Denise said.