Over the past few weeks my dependency on these menstrual mobile applications has gotten a little out of hand. Rather than rely on my own “feminine instincts” and bodily symptoms, I find myself checking my Apps to see if I am fertile as well as when my next period will be. This was a concern of mine when I started this project.
Some may wonder: “Why is this a problem?”
It’s a problem because these Apps distance women from their menses. The idea of letting something else (a mobile application) worry about your period, perpetuates present-day negative views of what it means to be a menstruating female.
With that in mind, I want to turn to the menstrual mobile application pink pad. pink pad is the best menstrual mobile application I have used. Yes, it features highly feminized themes, colours and text, but it also features something many of the other applications do not – moon phases.
As you know, moon phases are very important to me. If it wasn’t for pink pad I wouldn’t know if eating pizza would result in me being sick for three days. But I must remember, pink pad is an aid, not the real thing. Likewise, the menstrual information I enter is only a representation of how I am feeling. The App can tell me what I felt on January 15th, but I was the one who had to manage the pain and nausea, not the device. This in itself creates a bit of hostility toward the App. It can harbour simulated symptoms and cycles without actually having to experience any of the discomfort. And don’t even get me started on the name, pink pad. Yes, it may represent the diary-style function of the application, but could it also be a play on words for, I don’t know, a Stayfree pad?
With all this being said, there are many features I love about pink pad:
- the moon phases featured on the calendar
- you can set personal reminders
- the themes aren’t all pink and flowery (you can choose from seasonal designs, like fall and winter, polka dots, argyle and a Sahara desert landscape)
- online social health forum
- symptoms tracker (although there are only 6 emoticons to choose from to describe your mood in the free version)
The Android Market describes the App as: “a health and lifestyle tracker with integrated community to connect women around the world”. Reviewers of pink pad agree, it is fantastic, but it lacks on thing – a password. The fact that women want a password to a menstrual mobile application, shows how uncomfortable we are with menstruation and with others finding out about how and when we menstruate.
Other women comment on its inaccuracy, not realizing that it’s not the device but their body that is “inaccurate”. Most women do not have a 28 day cycle, and every cycle is different depending on environment, stress and lifestyle changes. It is not a coincidence that the busy Christmas season pushed my period back a week – stress!
I find it troubling that women believe that if they download an App, it will tell them exactly when and for how long they will menstruate. Even more troubling is that some women rely on the device for natural family planning.
There is nothing natural about a mobile application!
I think it is important for women to have various tools in their lives to help them better understand their body. I can trust the moon more than my own doctor’s diagnosis. However it is equally important that we find a healthy balance with these devices, whether it be a mobile application, oral contraceptive or LadyComp, we need to be the one in the know and in control.