Are Cell Phone Bills the New Fertility Calendars?

Cristen Conger

Can your cell phone tell you when you're fertile? (© 2009 Jupiterimages Corporation)

We've heard about the forthcoming STD testing app for smartphones. Just yesterday, HowStuffWorks premiered a super fantastic app that is guaranteed to change your life. And as if life couldn't get any more amazing thanks to cell phones, psychologists have discovered yet another functionality for these gadgets. Cell phones might be able to track a woman's fertility.

A study in Psychological Science (via i09) tested whether women avoid close male relatives -- specifically, their fathers -- during the peak fertility of their menstrual cycles. Other female animals are known to exhibit this subconscious behavior as a way of ensuring healthy genetic matches for their offspring. On Stuff Mom Never Told You, Molly and I have also discussed how human opposites attract, genetically-speaking, in order to bestow babies the toughest immune systems possible. But if women are actively drawn to men with major histocompatibility complexes different from ours, are we actively repelled from brothers and fathers with similar genetic coding?

The Psychological Science study results suggest that, yes, we are. The psychologists tracked 48 women's cell phone use over their menstrual cycles. Lo and behold, women dialed up their dads and chatted half as long at peak fertility. However, they were four times as likely to call their mothers during that fertile window. The participant pool is pretty small, and the correlation between phone calls and fertility doesn't add up to rock solid science. However, the researchers do interpret that pattern as a sign of women's ingrained evolutionary impulse to steer clear of undesirable mates when they're most likely to get pregnant.

Now, women wondering whether they're ovulating can check their cell phone call log for a quick (and by no means medically accurate) indicator. No app required.

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