Incipient Infertility: tracking eggs and ovulation across the life course

Celia Roberts, Catherine Waldby

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    Tracking in/fertilitythrough ovulation biosensing, menstrual and perimenopausal apps, and ovarian reserve testingis becoming increasingly commonplace amongst relatively privileged women in the Global North. Taking place on and through platforms comprised of devices, bodies, and discourses, such self-tracking articulates forms of in/fertility and reproductive futures that are, we argue, closely entwined with emerging forms of biomedical capitalization. While reproductive medicine focused on the creation of children has been entwined with corporate interests since the development of in vitro fertilization in the 1980s, fertility as an asset, or future value, is increasingly targeted by the new innovation sectors as a specific capacity, separable from reproduction per se, in which women should invest if they are not to fall prey to incipient infertility. Synthesizing our separate empirical work in this field, this paper theorizes the connections between the emergence of self-tracking logics and cultures, the burgeoning of consumer-oriented, clinical services, and contemporary social anxieties around fertility decline. Even in countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom, where birth rates are stable, (some) womens fertility is being refigured as precious and vulnerable, something to be tracked, documented, and attended to in the name of individual future happiness and fulfilment. Women with enough financial and cultural capital are encouraged to monitor their periods, come to know their ovulation patterns, and become aware of their ovarian reserve, and, importantly, to act prudently on such knowledge to safeguard their reproductive futures.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalCatalyst
    Volume7
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2021

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