winkPhoto: Gizmag


Natural family planning is getting a technological boost with new advances that make it even easier for a woman to track her fertility cycle.

The company behind the Kindara app, which charts a woman’s fertility signs right on her phone and connects her with specialist support, has come out with an innovative thermometer.

Cheekily called Wink, the thermometer is linked wirelessly with the app in her cellphone and acts as an alarm clock – since taking basal temperature at the same time each morning is integral to most fertility-monitoring methods.

When the woman wakes up, she reaches for her Wink, which then turns off the alarm (without her ever having to touch her phone) and takes her temperature with the device. The thermometer takes a quick reading, vibrating when done, and instantly syncs the temperature and time it was taken with the fertility chart in her phone.

There are many other fertility apps out there, and Natural Womanhood offers some great advice on finding the best ones. Some women are now also using routine ovulation tests like OvaCue to determine the day of ovulation and achieve or avoid pregnancy naturally using the information.

These kind of advances are revolutionary for a family planning system that up until recently relied on paper charts and stickers or hand-drawn graphs. The technology was spurred by the gaining popularity of natural family planning methods. Long sanctioned by the Catholic Church and many Christians as the only approved method of birth control, natural family planning, or fertility awareness as it’s known in secular circles, is becoming popular with even those who have no religious reasons for abstaining from other methods.

As women become more aware of the risks of hormonal birth control, they are looking for other options. Many are surprised to learn just how effective NFP is – when used correctly its success rate matches that of the Pill. 

Those in the medical profession however have been exceptionally slow to catch up. Doctors will often mistakenly say that using NFP is like using “nothing at all,” and tell women then should prepare for an unplanned pregnancy. They’re wrong. NFP, when used correctly, is up to 99 per cent effective. This can be very frustrating for women who know the system works and are having to educate their doctors.

There are many different NFP methods, but they all revolve around tracking one or more of the following — basal body temperature, cervical mucus and position of the cervix. These are all signs of the hormonal changes that occur throughout a women’s menstrual cycle. By abstaining from sex during the fertile window, couples can avoid pregnancy naturally.

In addition to preventing unplanned pregnancies and helping women get pregnancy more quickly when they want to, experts say NFP allows women to learn more about their bodies and it improves communication between couples. Many women are drawn to NFP because they don’t want to be putting hormones or chemicals in their body and they say being aware of their fertility gives them a feeling of empowerment.

Since the invention of the Pill, women and their doctors have approached fertility as a disease or problem to be fixed, thinking that only by acting against nature could a woman avoid pregnancy. Now, the conversation is changing and women are being drawn to the idea of embracing the natural changes in their bodies and empowering themselves with that information to make choices about when to have a child.

New gadgets like Wink can help NFP appeal to a new generation of women, and many of those who advocate for NFP hope that one day basic fertility information will be taught early to young girls so that this option becomes something they feel comfortable with and trust right from the start.