Incipient Infertility: Tracking eggs and ovulation across the life course

Incipient Infertility: Tracking eggs and ovulation across the life course
Photo by DDP on Unsplash

This seminar will be held via Zoom

Meeting ID: 971 4487 6973

Password: 829989

Tracking in/fertility – through ovulation biosensing, menstrual and perimenopausal apps, and ovarian reserve testing – is 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 capitalisation. While reproductive medicine focused on the creation of children has been entwined with corporate interests since the development of IVF 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. Synthesising our separate empirical work in this field, this paper theorises 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 like Australia and the United Kingdom, where birth rates are stable, (some) women’s 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.

About the Presenters:

Celia Roberts works in the area of Feminist Technoscience Studies, with particular focus on reproduction, sexuality, sex/ gender, embodiment and health.

Professor Catherine Waldby is Director of the Research School of Social Sciences, at the Australian National University, and Visiting Professor at the Department of Social Science and Medicine at King’s College London. Her researches focuses on social studies of biomedicine and the life sciences.

Date & time

Mon 21 Sep 2020, 1–2pm


Online via Zoom


Professor Celia Roberts
Professor Catherine Waldby


School of Sociology


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