Fertility tracking: women’s lib?

Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 10.34.49 amA recent article in The Guardian profiled the rise of fertility tracking software and devices. It left me uncomfortably attempting to reconcile the obvious benefits with what are likely to be the costs of such technologies.

For some time, apps have been available as a means to record your menstrual cycle. The one I use, Period Tracker, allows you not only to input the date of your period, but to record a variety of symptoms (bloating, headache, night sweats) and moods (‘flirty’, anxious, sad), and even when a woman is sexually active. The app calculates your likely cycle, which for those who menstruate other than on a 28 day cycle, is very handy. The deluxe version, I believe, can be shared with your partner to identify your window of fertility.

Fertility trackers are an updated version of this. Like Fitbit, they can be tuned into your body’s physiology and work with that data to alert you to your fertility. Some suggest that this data might also be able to predict underlying medical conditions. This has implications both personally and population wide – implications that are both potentially liberating and chilling.

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