The birth of fertility tracking tech

TECH RADAR, FEB 2018

From thermometers to charts to apps to complicated maths, for women, tracking their cycle to work out when best to conceive, and when to avoid conceiving, is nothing new.

And now, thanks to the rise in tech designed to make fertility tracking at home easier and more accurate than ever, more and more women are entrusting the planning and prevention of pregnancy to an app and a thermometer.

In many ways this is a hugely positive development, providing women all over the globe with more knowledge and insights into how their bodies work. Not only is this empowering, it gives them a better chance of making good decisions without the need to sit in a doctor’s waiting room, wait ages for tests, or pay for advice. 

Rebecca Simmons, Assistant Professor and Sexual & Reproductive Health Researcher, explains: “Personalized medicine – this idea that we can tailor broader health information to ourselves for better outcomes – is really driving people to have a better understanding of their own bodies with respect to everything, from fitness to nutrition to chronic disease.” 

“I think that fertility technology and fertility-awareness-based methods really align with this larger trend.”

But, as you may expect, this new wave of fertility tracking tech doesn’t come without its issues, from lack of regulation and steep prices through to dubious claims and even unwanted pregnancies.

For example, popular fertility tracking app Natural Cycles, which is claimed to be able to plan and prevent pregnancy, has come under fire for allegedly leading to a number of unplanned pregnancies.

So do the benefits outweigh the risks? Or are people jumping on board this particular quantified self bandwagon far too early? 

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