e-menstruation

While we no longer use the moon to track our menstrual cycles we all use some sort of system to count the days up until and in between our cycles. Some of us use the inside flap of the pillbox, others our daily calendar, still others a website or phone App.

As a woman not on the pill, I need to be intentional about tracking my period. But even if you are on the pill it is important that you are intentional about recording how you feel each day to ensure you have a healthy relationship with your uterus and self.

I believe that all women can benefit from keeping a period journal or calendar.

For a few years now I have been using the menstrual cycle tracking service mymonthlycycles.com. However I have to admit that even with the help of this service I am not consistent with recording my symptoms or period start dates. (This inconsistency may explain why the system tracks my cycles to be 48 days in length).

I try to update my records but find myself getting frustrated at the way symptoms are categorized and the overall inaccuracy of fertility readings. I feel that my frustration is the result of the system being set up to reflect “normal” cycles.

Yes, my online account is personalized, but in the end it is just a system of codes that cannot be expected to track or explain why I ovulated on day 24 this month instead of day 18 like last month. I need to get comfortable with the idea that tracking my fertility is not about averaging out a day, but more so about understanding how my body works and what my uterus is trying to tell me.

I want to try a little experiment… or maybe this is the start of another research project.

With mobile technologies tracking your period has gotten even easier. You can carry around the device that tracks your every feeling, mood and bleed. Although I find our reliance on technology to be quite disturbing, I wonder if this new reliance may be a positive thing for my relationship with my uterus.

Over the next three months I am going to commit to faithfully using five different period tracking Apps on my iPod. I will share my experience through blogging and the new dropsofscarlet twitter page. By sharing my day-to-day experiences and critiquing each application I hope to show how these mobile Apps influence our menstrual cycles and women’s relationship to technology.

When narrowing down my choice of Apps I tried to pull together a well-developed sample that draws on various menstrual management ideas and approaches.

The list of Apps are as follows:

1. iPeriod
2. Tampax On Track Ovulation and Period Tracker
3. Code Red: A survival guide to her monthly cycle. Period!
4. Period Diary
5. Pink Pad

I hope that you will join me on this experiment and that we can have a conversation about these applications. You may want to pick one or two Apps to follow or may want to try all five. Regardless I think it is important that we explore today’s innovations centred on menstrual health so that we can understand the effects mobile applications have on our cycles, our relationships and the perception popular culture has of menstruation.

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2 comments on “e-menstruation

  1. Rachel Erb says:

    Very interesting!

    When I first went off the pill, I tracked my cycles very faithfully using charts photocopied from the book ‘Taking Charge of Your Fertility’ by Toni Weschler. Over time, I have dropped things from my charting regimen. First I stopped noting things like my moods, exercise, and illnesses. Then I stopped taking my temperature. Eventually I got rid of the chart altogether and just started tracking my cycles with little ticks on the wall calendar. Now I really only mark the first day of my period. I still use fertility awareness as my only form of birth control, but I feel like it’s become really internal. After 12 years of paying attention to my body so closely, it’s become second nature and I don’t really feel the need to write it all down anymore.

    I have to admit, I’m a bit phobic about technology and have never used any apps of any sort. I don’t even know if my old iPod does that sort of thing. But I’m very interested to see what you discover, and I’ll be checking in regularly.

    • I have also used Toni Weschler’s book and found it to be a great guide to reproduction and women’s health issues. For four years now I have also found my knowledge of fertility to be something that comes naturally, but find that by tracking my diet and moods I am more aware of what my body is going through at each stage of my cycle. In fact by tracking my diet I know what foods aggravate my uterus and which ones make her feel good! Although I don’t always play fair and sometimes eat a piece of cheesecake or a sundae.

      I too am excited to see what I discover with the mobile applications. It has been a fantastic couple of days with new insights on how women around the world view their cycles. I think the greatest thing about these mobile applications is the community forums you can participate in. You get the chance to learn all sorts of things about menstruation as well what other women are going through.

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