Updated: Feb 29, 2020
This is what the original analog/monochrome Clearblue Fertility Monitor looks like:
These began to be manufactured in 1998 under the brand name, ClearPlan Fertility Monitor. Some years later it was rebranded to the Clearblue Easy Fertility Monitor, and sometime after 2011 it was rebranded again just to Clearblue Fertility Monitor. So if you're in the market for one of these, consider avoiding the earlier two brandings, as those monitors will be older. The Clearblue Fertility Monitor that looks like this stopped being manufactured in 2013.
And here's what the newer touchscreen/color Clearblue Advanced Fertility Monitor looks like:
Note that the packaging images for both types of monitor may vary. One nifty little "secret"? See that purple colored lid on the picture above? That means that monitor is the USA version. The white lid you see to the left is version sold in the UK/Europe/Canada. What's the difference? The white lid version has pregnancy tests enabled, and in those countries test sticks come in boxes of 20 fertility tests and 4 pregnancy tests designed specially for the monitor. The FDA in the USA disallowed a dual-function device, so the pregnancy test function is disabled in the purple lid monitors, and the pregnancy tests for the monitor are not sold in the USA.
They both have the same sensitivity to the hormonal levels they're testing. Since the original Fertility Monitor stopped being manufactured in 2013, in retail stores you can only find the Advanced Fertility Monitor. Online, you can still find the original monitor, generally sold second hand, but sometimes still new in the box if it's been sitting on a warehouse shelf somewhere. For the method's purposes, it's fine to get a used monitor – whether original or touchscreen. You may need to reprogram it to clear the memory before you begin using it.
The original monitor is a little more user friendly prior to cycle return, but the new monitor has some perks in user friendliness for women in regular cycles.
Here's a list of pros and cons to getting the Advanced Fertility Monitor.
1. This is probably the most important benefit. If the liquid doesn't wick up the stick correctly, it will display an error message telling you to test again. The original monitor wouldn't do that; so long as the stick was inserted correctly and was mechanically fine, if it couldn't read the window (because the liquid didn't get enough of the way through) its most likely response would be to display the prior day's result, but it's possible it could cause a false high. It would not notify you of the problem. That's a serious flaw in the original monitor design. For this reason, I suggest to my clients to watch the liquid wick across the window before inserting the test stick in the original monitor.
2. It has a basic chart (not very useful for TTA, and it's better to keep charts you can hold on to, since the monitor only keeps 6 cycles worth of data) but handy in a pinch.
3. It takes up less room to store.
4. It tells you the date and the monitor day, not just the monitor day.
5. It will tell you in advance what days it will accept tests (as the monitor will start testing between days 6-9 inclusive), and you can see if you are within the testing window on a testing day without having to turn the monitor on first, because it will flash a red light on the outside display. With the original monitor, you must turn it on to check that it's accepting a test. It also has an alarm you can set to remind you to test.
6. Better customer service if you need to contact the Clearblue helpline. The original monitor stopped being manufactured in 2013, so assistance for that is phasing (or phased) out.
1. Runs through batteries much faster. You can expect to replace two AA batteries about every 3-5 months, instead of four AAA batteries about every 4-5 years, which was the original monitor's normal battery life.
2. Some people find it harder to open the battery compartment and change the batteries.
3. Will only go to day 4 of a cycle, not day 5, so you have less time to set it up for a new cycle when you get your period.
4. You may have to lie to the monitor about what time your period started to set it to the correct cycle day per your fertility awareness based method rules.
5. Because it has a clock you must set the time on, if you change time zones more than an hour difference from your prior zone, you'll have to clear the monitor memory completely at the beginning of the next cycle to get the clock time correct. You can only change the time on the monitor when you reset for a new cycle, in the first 4 days, and only by one hour either way (to accommodate daylight savings time.) If you want to change the monitor time by more than one hour, you can't do that at all unless you reprogram it first. This isn't a factor with the original monitor, you'd just reset to your preferred testing time in your new time zone when your next cycle started.
6. For people postpartum in cycle 0 (prior to the return of menses) the new monitor is more inconvenient. It means missing a test every 10-19 tests, and a bit more abstinence due to this. You will need to have OPKs on hand to cover the day of missed test. That doesn't reduce the abstinence, but does help you feel comfortable that you didn't miss peak on the day of missed test.
You can find the Advanced Fertility Monitor in store (drugstores, Target, Walmart, etc.) You can also find it online (amazon, eBay, jet.com, etc.) Look for a deal, and check for coupon/discount/promo codes. They do tend to be more expensive in store, but sometimes you can find them on clearance. Any of these monitors use the same Clearblue Fertility Monitor Test Sticks.