Will Fertility Technology Increase Respect for Nature?


A clever opening line of an article recently caught my attention. It said, “The fertility app space has never been, well, more fertile.” While this sounds a bit cryptic, the article featured on FitPregnancy.com was a review of several new mobile apps that help people track fertility.

Although the article reviews ten apps that are designed to help couples become pregnant, it may suggest an undercurrent of skepticism about the medical community’s unquestioned acceptance of the contraceptive approach to family planning. In a recent, first-of-its-kind clinical trial of the effectiveness of the popular app Natural Cycles, women were asked whether they were pleased with their decision to switch from hormonal contraceptives to a fertility-awareness based mobile app. The result: eighty-eight percent answered yes, while only six percent said no.

I think it is possible that such apps could help many ponder the fascinating reality of female biology more intentionally. This could well lead couples to discern a more integrated approach to sexuality, even altering the obsession with pregnancy prevention to a deeper understanding of the nature of sex. After more than sixty years in which the relationship between sex and procreation has been substantially eroded due to “the Pill” and a contraceptive mindset, we may begin to see a new dialogue on what healthy human sexuality actually is.

Proponents of Natural Family Planning, including the highly-acclaimed medical model that comes from Creighton University, have for decades recommended tracking the signs of a woman’s fertility. Ironically, it seems to have taken our culture’s fascinating with—and trust in—technology to point us in the direction of respecting nature once again.

I found it curious that Planned Parenthood, an aggressive proponent of contraceptive methods and devices, recently released a very popular app called Spot On that, at first glance, seemed to be in the same genre as those mentioned in the FitPregnancy.com article. However, though claiming to track “Your Birth Control,” “Your Period,” “Your Body,” and “Your Cycle” I discovered on closer inspection that their app simply tracks menstruation and mood and reminds women when to take their contraceptives, providing no information about fertility or ovulation. This app also includes a feature showing the nearest Planned Parenthood location, so its purpose seems less about empowering women to understand their fertility than to help them more easily utilize Planned Parenthood’s services.