How period trackers presume/impose heterosexuality, fertility, feminity
March 2, 2015 7:11 PM   Subscribe

Maggie Delano discusses the crushing assumption of heterosexual fertility planning written into the very code of period tracking apps. A participant in the Quantified Self movement (described here by the wonderful Whitney Erin Boesel), Delano articulates for us the often-hidden, unique needs of women who are infertile or partnered with women, trans men and those not sexually active. I felt keenly her frustration at the way period trackers can never be 'neutral' or customisable outside of certain prescribed limitations, which have nothing to do with usability and everything to do with cultural expectations.
posted by averysmallcat (99 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
 
Yeah I had this issue recently. I wanted some software for tracking a medical condition which caused lack of periods - and every single app on the Android store was pink, flowery, and very focused on a presumed audience of women wanting to become pregnant.

In the end I did find an app more aimed at tracking data generally that I was able to use. It doesn't have the best looking interface but it does the job. It's called My Logs Pro.
posted by jzed at 7:16 PM on March 2, 2015 [5 favorites]


Seriously look at all of the icons that come back from this search. INFURIATING.
posted by jzed at 7:20 PM on March 2, 2015 [8 favorites]


iOS has Free Menstruel Calculator. The icon is a pinwheel and the background is a tree. The fertility stuff is mostly in another app (that they want you to buy) - and what is there is easily ignored.

Only complaint I have is that I kind of forgot to use it for a few months, and it now thinks I have a 72 day cycle. I can change it to manually give me a 28-day cycle, but I can't seem to reset it's personal cycle detection.
posted by jb at 7:29 PM on March 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Ugh, if they used accurate icons for period trackers it wouldn't be flowers. It would be a little cartoon lady with mad unwashed hair, wearing sweatpants, and cheering on the Predator with half a donut hanging out of her mouth.
I would drop kick my uterus into the sun if I could.
posted by Lemmy Caution at 7:30 PM on March 2, 2015 [79 favorites]


jzed: "Seriously look at all of the icons that come back from this search. INFURIATING."

I see a lot of flowers, is that a common metaphor/symbol? Anyway, I'm guessing Apple wouldn't approve an icon based on this image (probably NSFW).
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 7:32 PM on March 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


I used the My Monthly Cycles website to track my period for quite a few years in the late 00s. Although it's quite pink, it does explicitely recognize that people may want to track their periods without tracking their fertility cycle. It's disappointing that modern apps well-funded apps are a step back from that.
posted by muddgirl at 7:33 PM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yup, this was super aggravating to me when I was looking for such an app. Mcalc was pretty great about not making gender, sexual orientation, or pregnancy desire assumptions. But the developers ran out of funds to keep supporting it. And, by the way, assumed no one using it weighed over 150 pounds.

My cyborg uterus has made this mostly a nonissue now (thank you, Mirena!) but I'm saddened yet unsurprised to hear the situation hasn't improved much in the interim.
posted by Stacey at 7:33 PM on March 2, 2015


These apps aren't written by people who altruistically want to help havers-of-menstrual-cycles. They're written by people who want to make money, and they'd far rather have a hundred thousand users who're downloading the thing that looks "prettiest" than a tenth of that who care about the most enlightened. I don't know, maybe I have low expectations, but while I would far prefer a less girly sort of app for this, I don't think it would get much in the way of market share, and without that, I don't know how they pay for the development of the features people want. The revenue model for apps like this is tricky to start with, more so when appealing to niche groups. Developers aren't free.
posted by Sequence at 7:34 PM on March 2, 2015 [28 favorites]


Huh. I have a mood tracker that I primarily use to make sure I take my medication. It has options for tracking hours of sleep, medication, energy level, caffeine intake, mood, stress, and menstrual cycle. There's an option to turn off the period tracking if "it doesn't apply to you." I remember being surprised back when I first got it that the default for tracking menstrual cycle was on by default. (It is the only metric that you can hide completely instead of just not using, though. I guess because more people are grossed out or triggered by that than about caffeine intake. )
posted by Karmakaze at 7:34 PM on March 2, 2015


I'm more annoyed that the one I use has started showing video ads every time I first open it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:38 PM on March 2, 2015


Ok I was wrong. The option reads "if you are male or do not wish to use this feature..." So it does fail on the gender assumption.
posted by Karmakaze at 7:38 PM on March 2, 2015


I am very interested in and open to criticisms of the gender and sexuality assumptions baked into technology, but criticizing an app whose full name is "Period Tracker & Women's Fertility Health Log by Glow" for logging your fertility seems a little contrary. It seems pretty clear that tracking fertility is the point of Glow.

I use iPeriod, which does make the days when it estimates you might be ovulating green, but otherwise has no in-your-face assumptions--though I undoubtedly have blind spots as a straight, cis woman. But I can make the app skin show an elephant or a snow boarder or some mountains. It will also let me set my period warning sound as an ominous sounding thunderclap, which I fricking love.
posted by looli at 7:39 PM on March 2, 2015 [11 favorites]


I use iPeriod, and it doesn't really bother me. It defaults to alerting me for late periods and fertile days, but I can turn that off. I have a choice of themes for how it looks. A lot of them are pretty conventionally female, but I can do plain blue, green, red, black, or aqua, as well as things called "Fall Abstract," "Blue Purple," "Ocean, " or "Disco." (I currently have "Blue Winter," which is a blue tree and some snowflakes.) It lets me keep track of symptoms such as migraines, but I'm not seeing a great way to track those against my cycle. Mostly it just sends me an alert a couple of days before my period is due, which is pretty much all I'm looking for.

My main rant about this is that there's no way to keep track of my periods on the Apple Health app. I find that totally bizarre. Also, I'm currently looking for a good migraine tracker app that will integrate with period tracking, because my migraines integrate with my menstrual cycle. It's weird to me that this is such a challenge.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:41 PM on March 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


MonthlyInfo, been using it for six years. It WILL tell you when you're fertile if you want it to, but you get to set up all your own notifications. Mine texts me two days before my period so I'm not caught without supplies! And then emails me couple days after it ends so I remember to sign in and enter the start date of my period, when I'm using my computer and not my phone (so I'm looking at e-mail). You can set up as many alerts as you want, and you can have it send an alert like, "You are fertile! Have sex!" or "You are fertile! Use a condom!" or "BLOOD IS COMING, GET TAMPONS." You can tell it to exclude data before X date while retaining all data, so if you've gone on (or off) the pill or had a hormonal change, you can exclude data from before that so you get a better prediction of your upcoming cycle. I can also tell you how many days I went without menstruating when pregnant and breastfeeding (514 and 590 days, the second one was a more voracious nurser), and that was pretty great.

I don't think it has an app, just a website. But I like it. The icon is three circles. One is green.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:45 PM on March 2, 2015 [17 favorites]


My main rant about this is that there's no way to keep track of my periods on the Apple Health app. I find that totally bizarre. Also, I'm currently looking for a good migraine tracker app that will integrate with period tracking, because my migraines integrate with my menstrual cycle. It's weird to me that this is such a challenge.

Absolutely, ArbitraryAndCapricious. I'm not an iDevice user so I actually use a bizarre and personal little series of scratchings and symbols in my paper Filofax, which is great for the simple stuff but doesn't let me track other things that might relate to my menstrual cycle. Big ones for me are high-anxiety days, mega-sadfeels days and ovarian cyst pain. I started looking for a good tracker with an easy interface that would let me track a bunch of common physical and emotional aspects without typing it in somewhere, but there's just... nothing. And for an over-arching 'health' app there really should be.

It's so strange, I just feel like a weird unperson with weird needs and a weird body. Why is this hard? I'm not unusual in my symptoms!
posted by averysmallcat at 7:45 PM on March 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


averysmallcat: "Big ones for me are high-anxiety days, mega-sadfeels days and ovarian cyst pain."

You can track these on Monthly Info in the "comments" box (which doesn't let you chart it but does let you look back at it!) ... and you can set it up to text-notify you "It is two days after the predicted start of your period, you will probably be very sad and anxious today." You can set it up to text you based on your predicted start date of your period (or ovulation), plus or minus however many days, and have it send any text or e-mail you want.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:50 PM on March 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


I really want one with customizable skins and alerts, preferably with options for that death metal font, stuff like that. THE BLOOD MOON APPROACHES, KHORNE DEMANDS TRIBUTE, etc
posted by NoraReed at 7:52 PM on March 2, 2015 [32 favorites]


MonthlyInfo, been using it for six years.

My college roommate created that site! My ovaries alpha tested it.

The icon is three circles. One is green.

I created that icon!
posted by phunniemee at 7:54 PM on March 2, 2015 [89 favorites]


Mod note: One comment deleted. If you think there's no point to what's being discussed here, feel free to skip the thread.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:01 PM on March 2, 2015 [24 favorites]


(I'll note that my hopes for ridiculous alerts aren't as important as the whole identity-respecting thing, obviously. But I bet if you made an app that allowed lots of space for jokes AND made it gender neutral AND made all the fertility shit optional or nonexistant, lots of people would use it! For now I'm using Clue, and I don't find the fertility window stuff too annoying because sometimes that's helpful for thinking about mood cycles/etc, but it'd be nice if I could turn it off. I like the way it does pain and moods, though.)
posted by NoraReed at 8:04 PM on March 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Apparently Clue released a thing a couple of days ago saying that they realize they're pretty heteronormative and they're working on it.

ETA: in response to one of the posts linked in the OP.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:08 PM on March 2, 2015 [8 favorites]


This article was great. I use an app called Groove, which I'm glad to know avoids all of this hetero-normative bullshit and atrocious user experience. I was thinking of trying out new apps because it doesn't let you track mood or pain along with your cycle but I guess I will just stick with what I have. It just lets you input your basic data and tries to predict what's coming next without being judgmental about it. It doesn't even mention fertility on the free version. There's no pink either.

There's a huge potential market here, one of us should get on this.
posted by bleep at 8:09 PM on March 2, 2015


iPeriod allows you to switch off ovulation tracking/prediction. It has a lot of features that I never use, or even look at, like mood emoji, and symptom tracking, and although there are no super butch skins, there are relatively neutral skins.

Also, it has graphs. I love graphs.
posted by misfish at 8:12 PM on March 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


I use My Days, which I picked, after perusing the options in the App Store for a full 2 minutes, for its refreshing lack of flowers and pink and its totally straightforward interface. It does tell you when you are likely to be ovulating, but otherwise doesn't take a stance on fertility. Ironically I was, in fact, using it to help plan a pregnancy (two in fact) but less foofy options that don't assume you're an upper class white woman in a heterosexual relationship are out there for the buying without much work.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 8:42 PM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


There's a huge potential market here, one of us should get on this.

It totally can be done. I had a very specific need for an app for cross-stitching, and contacted a developer who had something similar for quilters. There wasn't a cross-stitch floss inventory app for Android at the time in 2010 or 2011, now it has over 1000 downloads. I made him a little icon and took a couple of photos and he just ran with it. We live in a fabulous time of mass customization where every tinkerer can be a creator. Just reach out and make the right connection!
posted by Calzephyr at 8:47 PM on March 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


These apps aren't written by people who altruistically want to help havers-of-menstrual-cycles. They're written by people who want to make money, and they'd far rather have a hundred thousand users who're downloading the thing that looks "prettiest" than a tenth of that who care about the most enlightened. I don't know, maybe I have low expectations, but while I would far prefer a less girly sort of app for this, I don't think it would get much in the way of market share, and without that, I don't know how they pay for the development of the features people want. The revenue model for apps like this is tricky to start with, more so when appealing to niche groups. Developers aren't free.

Hmm, yes, I am a middle-aged cis woman who has embraced a long-acting contraceptive option but would still appreciate being able to track my cycle, non-pinkly, for reasons unrelated to family planning. I suspect, far from being a "niche group", there are tens if not hundreds of thousands of women like me.
posted by gingerest at 8:52 PM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Most of Delano's issues don't apply to me, and I've never been concerned about the ones that do/have, so let me start by confessing that I've never evaluated my period tracker app from the perspective of anybody but me. But I'm recommending it because I really, really love it and having read this FPP and thread, I think it's good at not being like the apps discussed. So, I guess I'm about to go on about this at great length: Ovuview, my beloved vagenda.


- The current icon is a flower* but multicoloured, not pink (though personally I'm not in support of contempt for pink and flowers).

- There are a variety of colour themes (mine is night mode).

- There are "avoid pregnancy", "conceive a baby" and "simple menstrual calendar" modes.

- Even in the pregnancy avoidance mode I use, you can turn off fertility view if you want.

- It can track period, temperature, cervical mucus, cervix height, intercourse, mood, headache, weight, pill-taking, pregnancy test results, ovulation test results, ovulation pain, breast tenderness, cramps, nausea, energy, irritability, dizziness, PMS, insomnia, appetite, sex drive, bloating, illness, ovulation, acne, medication, backache, fertility monitor results, mucus colour, a couple other (fertility related?) things that I don't know what they are, cervix texture, plus up to 8 custom symptoms plus you can add daily notes. The symptoms can all be recorded in some detail. (I have actually been unsatisfied with all this before; now I feel ungrateful.)

- Every single symptom can be toggled on or off.

- The home screen gives you hints and advice which you don't have to look at, or, having looked, you can choose not to see again. You can also disable hints by category so you don't have to hear about fertility or whatever if you don't want to.

- You can set cycle length to between 10 and 150 days.

- It keeps really good long term statistics.

- You can backup and restore your data to/from your SD card, as well as import data from My Days, WomanLog and FertilityFriend if you've been using those.

- It has ovulation, menses, mucus observation, morning temperature-taking and breast self-exam reminders, plus you can add custom reminders.

- Most of that stuff is free, but the ad-removing premium upgrade version (a few dollars) includes widgets, password protection, a pregnancy mode, miscarriage support, email backups (with spreadsheets if you want AND I DO), charts, and other stuff.


Seriously, it's one of my favourite apps for any purpose and I've been taking it utterly for granted for years. I would never have guessed people were struggling with such shitty apps when there's this kind of competition. I hope this is useful to some people.

* Also, to answer Joakim Ziegler's question, I think the flower metaphor is common with these apps because of the association with fertility, the cyclic shape, and the visual similarity to all those contraceptive pills packaged as round discs.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 9:34 PM on March 2, 2015 [9 favorites]


Oh, I should say it appears to be an Android-only app.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 9:39 PM on March 2, 2015


I'm another Monthlyinfo user who's been using it for six years, and I've been really happy with it. It tends to be a little off when predicting just when I'm ovulating, but it does exactly what I need it to do without any cutesy BS, and it's super simple and streamlined. It's fairly pink though I guess.
posted by yasaman at 9:46 PM on March 2, 2015


Seriously look at all of the icons that come back from this search. INFURIATING.

I don't know how folks looking for an app like this who see "all grown up" on the icon for VIABLE IT SOLUTION's "Period Tracker" restrain themselves from crumbling their phone like a potato chip in their clenched fist.
posted by No-sword at 9:54 PM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


I use GP International LLC's Period Tracker and yeah, this does not represent how I feel about my period. There aren't any fucking butterflies around, that's for sure.
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:56 PM on March 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


You can turn fertility stuff on and off, though.
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:57 PM on March 2, 2015


if any of you want to make an app that does this better and has better graphics, I'd be happy to let you use my image of Khorne holding a tampon (self link)
posted by NoraReed at 11:00 PM on March 2, 2015 [6 favorites]


image of Khorne holding a tampon

Chaos in the Old World will never be the same for me again
posted by jklaiho at 11:12 PM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


I use Period Tracker, and while my fertility is a largely theoretical thing these days, I am always kind of tickled if I happen to open the app and see its butterfly fluttering near flowery branch fertility alert. Which I don't often, because I only use it to track when my period is. Aside from that, I think you can track whatever you do or don't want, it's pretty basic (of course I use the free version which probably is pretty limited).
posted by mythical anthropomorphic amphibian at 11:24 PM on March 2, 2015


I kinda enjoy knowing when I'm theoretically "fertile" because I know, thanks to my handy flower chart, those are always the times in my cycle that I am an absolute wretched asshole. The happy pink flowers are something of a pleasant irony.
posted by zinful at 11:34 PM on March 2, 2015


Oooh, does anyone know if there's a period tracker for perimenopausal women that explodes into fireworks 12 months after the last period? Because who can remember when that was?
posted by b33j at 12:19 AM on March 3, 2015 [18 favorites]


IT COULD DO THE THING WITH THE CARDS FROM MICROSOFT SOLITAIRE

get on this, designers
posted by NoraReed at 12:22 AM on March 3, 2015 [30 favorites]


I never understood the period tracking thing, unless you are actively trying to conceive. Am I really unusual in this? At school in health class they gave us all little booklets for tracking our periods, but I guess I am easily distracted because I don't think I ever managed to remember to do it for more than a month in a row.

I suppose I am lucky(?) in that I have extremely obvious PMS, so I get a little personal warning about 48 hours beforehand (migraines, random floods of tears, achiness, lack of appetite, dizziness) and another about six hours beforehand (cramps, diarrhoea), to say "HEY YOU ARE GOING TO GET BLOOD ON THINGS IF YOU DON'T BUY SOME TAMPONS/FIND YOUR DIVACUP SOON".

Do people use period trackers because they don't have any other warning that their period is coming? Or is there another reason? I guess I get that certain health conditions can make your periods irregular and then you might want details of when they happened for your doctor. And I get that if you are wondering if you are going into menopause as b33j mentions, that it could be useful. And I suppose that I am maybe risking that I might not notice if I skipped a period and then could end up giving birth unexpectedly in a reality TV show or something... Hmmm... Okay, maybe I've answered my own question.
posted by lollusc at 1:30 AM on March 3, 2015


I started period tracking mostly so I don't make the mistake of picking up new Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant books when I'm on PMS week after a particularly bad incident involving the Newsflesh series and a lot of uncontrollable sobbing. It's handy for making sure I have painkillers/tampons/pads on hand/in my purse/at my sweetheart's house, too, but mostly I use it to track my mood. I find it really useful to have something to check when I'm feeling really down that tells me that it's probably at least partly caused by my hormones exacerbating my depression because I know it's temporary and it keeps me from feeling so much like the world is going to end: I can ride out the mood like a sickness rather than an indicator of something broken in myself or my life.

Mostly it's the reading material thing, though; I just have to make sure I've set myself up with something that'll act as a distraction/escape from the morbs if I need it. It's nice to also be able to let my sweetheart know when I'm likely to get depressed so he knows to cuddle and compliment me and play Dragon Age with me so I spend less time crying, but also so he knows that while the feelings are real they aren't necessarily indicative of my life actually falling apart and he doesn't need to worry about me.
posted by NoraReed at 1:44 AM on March 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


Do people use period trackers because they don't have any other warning that their period is coming?

yep.
posted by jb at 1:57 AM on March 3, 2015 [9 favorites]


I never understood the period tracking thing, unless you are actively trying to conceive.

I've tracked my period since it began. For me at least it's nothing to do with conception or even avoiding conception. I just find it useful to know in case I miss a period (I have issues which mean occasionally irregular periods), or in case it's on schedule to come while I am on holiday or away from home, etc. I don't get a regular recognisable form of PMS, so I have no other indications it's due apart from a date on a calendar.

I don't use an app anymore to track my period. I used Clue but always forgot to update it, and I found its focus on fertile windows and PMS irrelevant for me, because I wasn't trying to conceive while using it, I don't get the same kind of PMS every month, and when I'm exercising right I can avoid it completely.
posted by Ziggy500 at 2:11 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


The last one I tried was called something like Period Tracker in the app store, but the text under the installed app said "P Tracker", like it was unthinkable that I'd want the word period anywhere on my phone where PEOPLE might SEE IT and KNOW that I HAD A PERIOD.

And yep, I'm another data point for "people who don't know their period is coming unless they keep track of it, and sometimes even then it's a surprise". No cramps, no tenderness anywhere, no obvious mood changes that I could readily distinguish from my unrelated mood disorder, no skin changes - just a whole bunch of blood, sometimes.

Then I started taking progestogen-only birth control. Haven't had a period since, and I don't intend to have one for a very long time. The doctor who first prescribed it said something like "some people end up not having a period on this stuff, so don't freak out and start worrying if that happens" and I was like ARE YOU SERIOUS THAT IS GREAT NEWS. Which, I guess, is some more cultural-expectations-around-reproduction stuff - I'm a young woman, so I'm supposed to be super worried if my baby-making apparatus starts malfunctioning. Except instead it was the best thing that ever happened to my uterus. True story.
posted by terretu at 3:07 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Or you have warnings, but you are aware that your cycle length is changing. Seems like it would be a good idea to track that.

Every time I have ever gone to the OB/GYN, they have asked me when my last period was, but I've literally never gotten any feedback based on it, so I assume that they don't do anything with that info. Has anybody else ever gotten feedback on that?
posted by heatvision at 3:08 AM on March 3, 2015


I never had any warning before I started using hormonal birth control, and my periods were seriously debilitating so it was really good to get a sense of when I might be spending two days in bed cursing the world and missing work or school. On the Pill, I was like clockwork so that was no longer an issue, but I tracked for a while because I suspected my migraines might be hormonal but wasn't sure and it seemed like a good way to figure it out.
posted by Stacey at 3:18 AM on March 3, 2015


Seriously look at all of the icons that come back from this search. INFURIATING

oh I dunno, the icon for this one looks kinda like Carrie post-bucket-of-blood. seems appropriate.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:27 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I kinda changed period trackers because the one I'd used was red, black and gray, and I wanted a pink or purple one. My daily planner is purple with flowers all over it, my online daily schedule app thing is lavender and "girly," my sheets and bedding are purple/lavender and cream. I spent a very long time in a relationship were everything had to be neutral colored or done with him in mind because he didn't want to be associated with anything that felt "girly" or too feminine. So, upon ending the relationship, I got to indulge myself with my pinks and purples and flowers and cute shoes. Yes, cute shoes were "girly" and therefore frivolous.

I also track my periods now because they ended up changing, and I wanted to figure out how long my PMS symptoms ( PMS gets really bad) were/are. Glad your cycle is perfect and trackable, and you never forget to pay attention or you don't have weird spotting or stop/start cycles.
posted by discopolo at 4:17 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I kept meaning to track mine every time I had a doctors' appointment, because they always asked me "so when was your last period" and I kept having to say something like, "uh....I think it was....like, two weeks ago?" and I felt like a doof. But I really started tracking it when I thought I might be starting perimenopause - I was definitely having what I thought were hot flashes - but my doctor tested me and my hormone levels were still normal.

Fortunately I found something that could appease them, but I started tracking everything so if I ever have to go back to my doctor because of suspected perimenopause again, and she says my hormone levels are normal, I can whip this out and say "but look here at these charts and graphs and lists of symptoms recorded over the course of the past year and a half, what do you say now"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:45 AM on March 3, 2015


Glad your cycle is perfect and trackable, and you never forget to pay attention or you don't have weird spotting or stop/start cycles.

Meh, I'm on the flip side of that and likewise have never used a tracker because my uterus & ovaries have basically always been, "fuck that shit man! you want to use us as data?! We'll give you fucking data!!!11! *punch in the guts*"

Everything from 12- to 34-day cycles, 5 to 9 full days of full-on bleeding (no calm run-up, oh no, just OH HAI BLOOD FOUNTAIN), cramps whose pain made me pass out AFTER having taken 800mg of ibuprofen well beforehand, and oh that one time a torsioned ovarian cyst the size of a small lemon burst and caused internal bleeding that nearly killed me.

Now I take the Pill and it's more like, 28-day cycles with somewhat unpredictable bleeding but that only lasts 7 days max, and the occasional time when my uterus decides to go all Kali Maa on me. (I nearly passed out at work last week. Fun. Brushed it off as, "darn, heh, guess that lunch didn't agree with me.") The Pill thing is my tracker now.

Endometriosis. Dear medical world, PLEASE RESEARCH ENDO MORE, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE.
posted by fraula at 5:13 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


heatvision: "Every time I have ever gone to the OB/GYN, they have asked me when my last period was, but I've literally never gotten any feedback based on it, so I assume that they don't do anything with that info. Has anybody else ever gotten feedback on that?"

If you're pregnant, that's part of how they date conception. More generally, the fact that you've had a period within the last six weeks or so is a diagnostic that says "okay, plumbing generally working, move on to the next question." (If you're trying to get pregnant they do expect you to know the actual date; otherwise "uhhhh ... two weeks ago?" is a pretty normal answer ... unless you're getting a CAT scan or have to take teratogenic medication, and then they are going to want specifics and/or make you take a pregnancy test.)

I had a somewhat dingbatty roommate in grad school who went in and they were like, "When was your last period?" and she was like, "Oh, six months ago!" very cheerfully and they were like, "Are you pregnant?" "Oh, no, I'm celibate, I'm a seminary student!" "Did you ... not think this was odd?" "I just thought it was really convenient and I was afraid if I mentioned it you'd make my period start again." Anyway they started with questions about stress and eating disorders, moved on to physical scans, and she ended up with surgery to remove a major growth in her uterus ... the scarring is so bad she is now infertile. (Which was heartbreaking for her as she intended to have a family one day.)

I don't get PMS, and I am terrible at keeping mental track. I've always kept track in my day planner or whatever and counted ahead the proper number of days to see when the next one will be. Online tracking and a text message warning is very helpful! And while I don't get PMS, the first two days of my actual period I am a disastrous emotional mess who wants to kill everything and frequently I can't keep food down. So I do try not to schedule important things on those two days.

My mom kept tiny red Xs in the corner of her wall calendar back in the analog days. I caught my dad surreptitiously checking it a few times.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:15 AM on March 3, 2015


I track mine mostly because, like EmpressCallipygos, I hated feeling like a dork at the doctor because I didn't know.

The app I use is Clue. The interface is not pink (although I do like the color pink) and it lets you track period, pain, fluid, temp, mood, sex, pill and has a field for tags. You can customize the reminders and what it reminds you about. It also somehow ties in with BBT data (I think via the iOS Health app). It's a great app. I've been using it for a few months after switching from m. calendar because I wanted something with a more modern interface.
posted by missmerrymack at 5:20 AM on March 3, 2015


I should add that I understand the author's complaints because I'm not in a situation where I am thinking about fertility, but Clue is still a solid app. I feel like the developer's have made a decent balance of features and customization to make it worthwhile. That said, more personalization would make it even better.
posted by missmerrymack at 5:26 AM on March 3, 2015


I still use a calendar and pen to track my highly erratic cycle. I've been this way since starting menstruation and while I have no need for birth control currently, I've never been able to regulate my period with the Pill. I suffer from amazingly horrible cramps the first few days of my cycle--enough where my Twitter and FB feeds are usually me railing against a uterus I am not going to use--and headaches sometimes. I have thought about using an online tracker, but when you're never sure if it's going to be six/five/eight weeks between periods, what's the point?
posted by Kitteh at 5:32 AM on March 3, 2015


Every time I have ever gone to the OB/GYN, they have asked me when my last period was, but I've literally never gotten any feedback based on it, so I assume that they don't do anything with that info. Has anybody else ever gotten feedback on that?

I went "....fff, uh, like six months ago?" and got referred and tested for PCOS, so. Now my 'period tracker' is also birth control, on the basis that if I'm not on it I naturally do not have periods more frequently than once or twice a year and may or may not ever actually ovulate to start with. *jazzhands* I would totally use one of these apps if I had anything remotely predictable to track, but the length between cycles (at least a few months, generally) has always lead to me forgetting I planned to track something by the time a new period pops up. Ideally, someone would make Blackbeard's Rugged Period Tracker or similar, but primarily I just like data.

PS, to the women going "well, I like girly things, so I kind of like having the option to have flowers/purple/lavender/etc on my period app": Hey. Nothing wrong with that. You get to like what you like. However, you get to have lots and lots and lots of options within those parameters, and as a woman who associates pink with irritating assumptions about what I'm presumed to want, I would also like to have options that line up with my tastes. That's why people are complaining about the pink and flowers--not because they think those things are inherently terrible, but because there are almost no other options right now.
posted by sciatrix at 5:43 AM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


I never understood the period tracking thing, unless you are actively trying to conceive.

I never used to until my doctor asked me to track my migraines with my period. That's how I discovered that I get menstrual migraines 24-48 hours before my period and sometimes at the end of my period. I use iPeriod to make sure that I have my migraine meds in my bag with me at that time. I have no sense of what my iPeriod app looks like without opening it. It's never really made an impression either way.

iPeriod tracks my ovulation too, but because I'm not trying to conceive I don't really care that "green week" is my fertile week. I know it's the week that my sexual appetite is much stronger, and that can be fun to know.
posted by gladly at 5:47 AM on March 3, 2015


I get terrible PMS, so I don't need the heads up that I'm about to start my period, but it is useful to have a heads up that I'm about to start PMSing, because I previously didn't always realize I was PMSing until I had some sort of completely inappropriate emotional reaction to some random thing. It's also been useful for tracking my migraines: I knew that I often got a bad one right before I got my period, but now I realize that I often get a milder one when I'm ovulating. And in general, I think it's useful to know how things are working and if anything is changing, especially as I hurtle towards menopause.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:06 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Actually, the tracker I use has been really helpful in a roundabout "see, I am starting perimenopause, I KNEW it!" way...I've actually been pretty normal and regular, except for a couple months where my period just...never came. But then the following month it came at the usual time, right on schedule.

And then I noticed that in the months where my period never came, that also was a month when I was getting numerous hot flashes every day. And when my period finally showed up again, they stopped.

Which has been very comforting in the past six weeks because it is a reminder that FINALLY THESE HOT FLASHES SHOULD BE STOPPING ANY DAY NOW AND I WILL FINALLY BE ABLE TO SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT GOD-DAMMIT
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:51 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh. My. God. Those icons!!! UGH.

I once took my mother to a local gynecologist and was so offended by the waiting room decor, which resembled a Victorian brothel more than anything else, that I insisted she change providers. Just because a person is equipped with a uterus does not mean they identify with some demeaning and anachronistic stereotype.

Every time I think we're moving forward...
posted by kinnakeet at 6:53 AM on March 3, 2015


I never understood the period tracking thing, unless you are actively trying to conceive

I used a period tracker because I got intense cramps (and nausea and dizziness) if I didn't start taking an NSAID right at the start of bleeding. It was nice to have a website ping me and say, "Hey, watch out" a few days in advance and I could just starting taking Aleve every 12 hours and stave off the problem.

Also, what if it my cycle starts getting shorter? What if it starts getting longer? What if it's erratic and I didn't even notice? Isn't it nice to have some other program track these things for me, so I can use my mental cycles for other things? I dare say that the majority of people who could benefit from having a historical record of their periods and symptoms are not trying to conceive or use fertility tracking as a form of birth control, just like people might want a more automated way of tracking sleep or nutrition even though they don't have any current issues with their sleep or diet.
posted by muddgirl at 7:16 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I like kindara. It's it's a little cutesy (icon is a dandelion seed head) but it's blue so...

My biggest beef with that app is that it takes forever to load, and they store your data online. Which is great if your phone explodes (mine did) but otherwise feels waaay too personal to keep online.

Am I the only one who fears Big Data is gonna track my monthlies and those of my friends, tie it to FB and start some massive campaign to.... I dunno, jack up chocolate prices at certain times?? Or I'm just paranoid.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:14 AM on March 3, 2015


I track so I can keep a step ahead of the pain with meds; if I don't, I get 1.5 days of agony. Either way I'm pretty useless during that time. I thought the last one was going to kill me.
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:14 AM on March 3, 2015


Hey, I recently downloaded Clue! I think their Google Play store description said something about no pink shit, which stopped me in my tracks in the middle of wading through a sea of super gendered icons.

I'm another person who has almost never tracked this stuff. My husband eventually learned not to panic at overhearing "holy fuck, blood!" from the bathroom occasionally.
posted by deludingmyself at 8:28 AM on March 3, 2015


Apparently Clue released a thing a couple of days ago saying that they realize they're pretty heteronormative and they're working on it.

The more I think about Clue's response, the more dissatisfying I find it. Did it really not occur to them that many women (including the teen user just previously quoted, who says she uses it for body awareness, not as birth control) may not care about when they will be fertile? Or may be actively turned off by reminders of ovulation? Does it really take a beta testing group to not include a piece of information?

I just downloaded Clue and, although it does look nice and has a much easier interface than my old web tracker, nearly every text box assumes I'm using it to track my fertility. For example, the explanation box for pain symptoms first describes ovulation pain, then says, "Oh, and if you have unusual pain, maybe you should talk to a doctor." The section on cervical mucous doesn't talk about how being aware of cervical mucous during your cycle can help identify common problems like yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis.

AND it doesn't really function well as a fertility tracker because it doesn't have any way to track and graph basal temperature. It's a weird mish-mash of an app that on one hand assumes menstruation tracking only concerns fertility, and on the other hand doesn't have one crucial tool for tracking fertility.
posted by muddgirl at 8:52 AM on March 3, 2015


lollusc: I never understood the period tracking thing, unless you are actively trying to conceive. Am I really unusual in this?

Not really - maybe relaxed with a side of fortunate? :)

For me it's very reassuring to know when my last period, although even then coming in a few days late makes me nervous. I actually started the tracking habit aged 13 when my period was really unreliable. I was glad to be in the habit when I switched to a copper IUD five years back, because having concrete data on how my cycle changed was so helpful.
posted by averysmallcat at 8:54 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I guess that, for me, ovulation isn't just about tracking fertility. It's also about tracking symptoms, because like a lot of women, I get symptoms when I ovulate. And if the point is to understand your cycle, then you want to know when you're ovulating even if you aren't focused on pregnancy.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:56 AM on March 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


Clue doesn't call it an "ovulation window", though. They call it a "Fertility Window" or "F.W."
posted by muddgirl at 8:59 AM on March 3, 2015


I really want one with customizable skins and alerts, preferably with options for that death metal font, stuff like that. THE BLOOD MOON APPROACHES, KHORNE DEMANDS TRIBUTE, etc

Oh god yes. The heavy metal period tracker app NEEDS to exist. There would not be flowers. There would not be butterflies. No. There would be blood. Which is objectively more appropriate. And it would send you notifications that say something like, "Prepare yourself, for [insert awesomely bad band name here] shreds in two days." Abysmal Dawn. Anvil of Doom. Liquid Graveyard. Blood Tsunami. Church of Misery. Dreams of Sanity. God, and these are just miscellaneous band names I pulled off Wikipedia. Even if you used this app for your entire menstruating life, I don't think you would ever run out of 100% real band names that can be read as menstruation puns.

And you could make it customizable! Perhaps PMS makes you want to kill the world--then you get A Different Breed of Killer, Bolt Thrower, Destroy Destroy Destroy. For pain, you get Gorguts, Disembowelment, Visceral Evisceration. All the feels? Then you need Lake of Tears, Shape of Despair, The Funeral Pyre. Man, I could do this all day...

I don't use any period tracking apps now, but I'm pretty sure I couldn't not download the metal tracker app. I think there's a reasonably good chance my husband would also download it and start tracking my periods. Hell, maybe you could get the makers of Paragard to sponsor it. Heavy metal cooter for the win!
posted by gueneverey at 9:04 AM on March 3, 2015 [27 favorites]


lollusc: I never understood the period tracking thing, unless you are actively trying to conceive. Am I really unusual in this?

Dunno about unusual, but certainly not alone! I don't have particularly outstanding period symptoms, but they're enough to give me some clue. Moreover, though, I've been on hormonal birth control for a billion years and it's almost completely removed unpredictability from the situation. I sometimes feel like the Last Pill Standing, because for some reason it's become rare-to-vanishingly-rare that I meet another menstruating person who's on hormonal birth control.

However, from this thread it would seem that our situations are the exception rather than the rule, so bring on the heavy metal uterus trackers. [eats chocolate in solidarity]
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:09 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


OK, yes, and we should be able to gamify this shit, like your period is an Epic Rock Battle that you win with tampons, hotpacks, and painkillers.
posted by muddgirl at 9:14 AM on March 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


> Actually, the tracker I use has been really helpful in a roundabout "see, I am starting perimenopause, I KNEW it!" way...I've actually been pretty normal and regular, except for a couple months where my period just...never came. But then the following month it came at the usual time, right on schedule.

I had never used a tracker until perimenopause made it clear that my reproductive cycle was going to end the way it started -- unpredictable and messy. I have less than zero interest in my fertility but knowing when I may be ovulating is useful in correlating with ovarian cyst pain and tracking cycles is helpful for trying to detect longer term trends. I've been using one with a pink flower icon but it's good to know I have lots of other options, thanks to this thread!
posted by gingerbeer at 9:22 AM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


I understand concerns about neutral apps being needed, but I think the way to accomplish that is to either go to neutral apps and make your voice heard, or clamor for new stuff - not to criticize apps, like Glow, that as mentioned by looli, are pretty explicitly for cisladies trying to track their fertility. Which can include lesbian couples which are trying to get pregnant through artificial insemination as well, I'd imagine.
posted by corb at 9:22 AM on March 3, 2015


I once took my mother to a local gynecologist and was so offended by the waiting room decor, which resembled a Victorian brothel more than anything else, that I insisted she change providers.

I ... dislike stereotypes also, but respectfully, there are lots of folks who like lots of different kinds of environments. Some like offices that feel like hospital settings, some like offices that feel like living rooms, and some might like offices that feel, or feel to you, like Victorian brothels. It has felt to me over the course of my life that what's most important in processing life among weird signaling of all kinds (gender-related and otherwise) is recognizing that my response to the icon for an app or the decor in a doctor's office is mine alone: mine to act upon unilaterally when I make a choice that's mine, and another person's to act upon when she -- or he -- makes a choice that's not mine. Some people like lace, and some people like flowers, just as some people like midcentury modern. My guess is that there are women who would tell you, "I love my doctor's office -- it's got all these soft textures and lace and big curtains; I feel like I'm in a fancy hotel." And there are other women who would tell you, "I had to leave my doctor's office because it felt like I was literally living inside a tampon commercial."

These are choices. And while I'm always supportive of advocating for more choices, those choices -- whether to use an app with a pink flower on it or not, whether to wear lipstick or not, and certainly what doctor to see -- belong to all of us, you know? There's no magic in a sterile doctor's office with gray carpet and black leather chairs, as compared to a doctor's office with brocade curtains and red carpet. What constitutes "professional" and what constitutes "brothel" and what constitutes "serious" and what constitutes "frivolous" are deeply gendered, deeply classed, deeply tradition-bound ideas to begin with. Even the use of "brothel" as a pejorative equivalent for a total lack of class, to be honest. I resent pink flowers as an ever-present default as much as anyone does, but there are currently pink roses on my bedspread. Because I like them.

I don't know. I just think ... the decor in a doctor's office is so personal to the doctor and the patients and the philosophy of the place. I went to a spa once that was profoundly frou-frou in its decor, but translated that into a really wonderful environment of self-care, and I was grateful. The intersection of aesthetics and substance -- or the other aspects of substance, I suppose -- is a complex one. Some great apps might have dopey art: that's true for lots and lots and lots of things outside of period trackers.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 9:24 AM on March 3, 2015 [10 favorites]


It's also about tracking symptoms,

Yeah. I've never been able to see my menses as anything but pathological. I remember being a teen and absolutely seething with frustration at the radical unfairness of my brothers' freedom to run or play baseball or do anything other than lay hurt and immobilized in bed with two hot water bottles. (And, when they'd look at me with contempt for suffering, or not even believing it could hurt that much, holy hell. I. Wanted. Vengeance. I remember seriously trying to use telekinesis [though I didn't believe in it any other time] to wrap up the wrath and fire and send it directly to their nads. 0% success rate, unfortunately.) Not sure I'm over it, tbh, I still resent my stupid plumbing. So, absolutely yes to the Khorne Heavy Metal Fuck You Tracker, is what I'm saying.
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:30 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


It seems to me like if Glow doesn't actually have a good option to just track your period + symptoms (as that isn't one of the "Life Paths" on the very first screen), and are intended to be used mostly for fertility awareness, then they should stop calling themselves a "period tracker."
posted by muddgirl at 9:40 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I find the varieties of feelings (and experiences of) periods in this thread really fascinating. I'm a mid-30s cisgender hetero woman, and have had varying feelings about my period over the course of my life, although now I guess my feeling is now mostly "eh, whatever."

I use My Days because it's easy and straightforward, and relatively accurate. I've used it to track ovulation mostly for pregnancy avoidance, but I also just kind of like to know when I'm ovulating. Even if there's no chance I'll become pregnant, ovulating is something that's happening to me, so yeah, it's kind of cool to know. I used to have crazy-regular periods, but recently my cycles have become shorter, so tracking became more important in case it's an indicator of a larger problem.
In terms of tracker styles, I fall into neither the "love the flowers and pink" nor the "hate the flowers, want angry blood GRRR!" categories. I bet I would have been much more into "angry blood GRRR" when I was younger and had terrible cramps, but these days give me accurate info and I don't much care what your interface looks like. I can imagine that for women (and transgender individuals) who are not in my fairly boring biological and cultural situation, things would feel very different, and I absolutely think there should be a variety of options to meet those needs. I mean, there are a lot of women out there bleeding.

So yeah, I don't know, I guess I don't really have much of a point except that I'm enjoying hearing all these differing feelings about something that's innately part of femaleness (and in some cases, trans-ness. I would be very interested to hear how a transitioning woman has experienced these things. I know it's in no way the same, but regardless of how well I had learned about periods, and how open my mom was about hers, the first time I actually had my own, I was totally thrown and like, What the hell is this??? My dad was home at the time, and when I told him there was something weird in my underwear [which I did not identify at the time as blood, I just knew it was not poop] he went and got a pad for me and then said I should call my mom. I've always thought he handled it pretty well for a relatively closed guy, in that he didn't freak out or get weird, just treated it as a physical issue to be coped with. Which is I guess kind of how I've thought about it since.)
posted by odayoday at 10:05 AM on March 3, 2015


What constitutes "professional" and what constitutes "brothel" and what constitutes "serious" and what constitutes "frivolous" are deeply gendered, deeply classed, deeply tradition-bound ideas to begin with. Even the use of "brothel" as a pejorative equivalent for a total lack of class, to be honest.


Yeah... Pink, flowers, lace, etc. are considered silly, frivolous and contemptible because they're associated with women and for no other reason. And I feel like, isn't that pretty shitty and misogynist? I understand just personally disliking pink, and I understand feeling boxed in and pandered to, but at the same time, like every deodorant, moisturiser and soft drink marketed to men is dark blue or black and men get to be at peace with that. Because everybody thinks that it's good and cool and serious to be a man and use man-looking shit. I do want marketing departments to stop being lazy, limited and exclusionary with their colour schemes, but I'm not going to act like I'm being dipped in raw sewage any time I have to use something girly-looking, because that only contributes to this sick collective fantasy that there's something bad and gross and inferior about being a woman, or like a woman.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 10:16 AM on March 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


I think that many different women feel differently about where the line is between something that is comfortably non-clinical and something that is oppressively feminine, but I often feel uncomfortable with certain displays of femininity because they're so tied up in a gender performance that I don't feel like I signed up for. The spa-type environment with soft music and/or waterflow, light colored woods, a nice scent, maybe some tea available, stuff like that-- can be gender-neutral without being so ~pink~. I'm fine with the pink when it's a choice, but really uncomfortable with apps, doctors offices, etc that assume that because I'm a woman (or, worse, because I have a vagina, because that's super cissexist and even though I'm cis I know enough to see how gross that is), I need things in pastels with flowers. I say this as someone who generally prefers the company of women and who goes for in-your-face-girly in my personal style at least half the time; I just feel really uncomfortable when I feel forced into femininity, particularly heteronormative femininity. (I'm queer but have often had relationships with cismen and am in one now, and the whole half-in-the-closet thing that comes with bi/pan life a lot of the time I think adds to this in some pretty specific ways-- there's this pervasive attitude of "we accept you, FELLOW HETEROSEXUAL" that I get from a lot of heteronormative society that I'm regularly anxious would fall away as soon as they realize I'm not one of them, and a lot of these things contribute to that anxiety.)
posted by NoraReed at 10:26 AM on March 3, 2015 [8 favorites]


I don't have a problem with pink, sparkly, pretty stuff. I personally happen often to like pink, sparkly, pretty stuff. I do have a problem with the expectation that every sex-or-gender-specific aspect of my existence has to be pink, sparkly and pretty, including the aspects that are actually messy, annoying and uncomfortable. Voluntary femininity isn't a problem for me, but compulsory femininity feels pretty oppressive, and that's what we're talking about here.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:46 AM on March 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


Voluntary femininity isn't a problem for me, but compulsory femininity feels pretty oppressive, and that's what we're talking about here.

What I was specifically talking about was telling another woman that she must change doctors because you take offense at the office decor. To me, interfering in another person's choice of doctor -- and the same would be true of, for instance, deleting someone else's fertility app, or telling them they shouldn't use it, because you don't like the icon -- negates whatever good you're doing in objecting to compulsory anything. That's all.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 11:03 AM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


I feel like part of advocating for any marginalised group is taking care to critique stereotypes without treating things, behaviours and people associated with those stereotypes as inferior. The message from society is tricky (one half saying you ought to be X and the other half telling you X is shit) and so the critique is tricky. But the same way I reject respectability politics as a black person who wants to be free of stereotypes about black people, I reject "pink is stupid", "revealing clothes are slutty", "mothers are annoying", etc. as a woman who wants to be free of coercive femininity, sexuality and motherhood. It takes attention but to me, it's necessary, because contempt for certain forms of (inherently harmless) femininity both feeds and is fed by contempt for all forms of femininity. Sometimes, pushback against stereotypes appears to cross a line into misogyny to me -- not all the time.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 11:26 AM on March 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm another Monthlyinfo user, maybe eight years? Is that possible? My only gripe with it was that it wasn't great for fertility tracking. I don't want you to guess what day I ovulated - I know for sure what day that was and I would like to log it just like I log my period. Eh, minor issue. Obviously I love the site or I wouldn't have used it for the past near-decade. I wish it had an iPhone app.
posted by arcticwoman at 11:28 AM on March 3, 2015


I'm fine with the pink when it's a choice, but really uncomfortable with apps, doctors offices, etc that assume that because I'm a woma

It is really, really fascinating how different women respond to things like this. To me, I actually not just embrace but get excited when doctors offices get all girly. Like, Victorian Brothel style, I am your target audience! I think because something about it seems transgressive to me - like, 'We know that the norm is for sterile shit and no lady-friendly things allowed, but we're going to get aggressively feminine such that men would get super uncomfortable about it, because this isn't for them." Maybe it's my time in the military, but for me, a 'Ladies only, we don't care what men think' space is like an oasis in a world of shit.

And I mean, I accept that maybe that's not everyone's bag, and some people's performance of femininity doesn't run that way, but I feel battered by the world already every time I go to the doctor and a place that is welcoming for me would be wonderful.

Which is I guess what I was trying to get at above. Can't we both have our things? Can't all women have our things? Can't we even have our separate things if need be so no one has to lose one of the few things that are somewhat precious to them?
posted by corb at 11:31 AM on March 3, 2015


Are we really in danger of having too many spaces and products designed for women that are not marked for femininity? Is it a precious commodity?
posted by muddgirl at 11:39 AM on March 3, 2015


I'll take Victorian brothel any day over the constant reminder that my uterus is here solely to repopulate the earth.

The office of the first gyn I ever went to (I was 17) was bedecked in artistic photos of babies all in pastel colors, and my (male) doctor happily let me know at the end of my appointment that he didn't see any reason why I wouldn't be able to have children.

I went in to find out a reason for my debilitating cramps.
posted by phunniemee at 11:53 AM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure if you meant it seriously or not, but yes - I feel that we are in danger of having spaces and products designed by women for women taken away. These gains are so new! I still remember having terrifying and incomprehensible GYN exams in steely, stony rooms where men told me what I needed to do and gave me zero useful information. Or midwives! We are so new to having midwives with their own practices and YES THEY HAVE PRETTY PICTURES ON THE WALL and fuck you, awful ob-gyn who told me I'd better not push because he wasn't ready for my baby yet!

Sorry if I'm a little angry - I just got done reading that article about who belongs to the MRA in the other thread and I want to throw up in my mouth and defend every gain we've made for the last thirty years with dynamite.
posted by corb at 11:54 AM on March 3, 2015


Oooh, does anyone know if there's a period tracker for perimenopausal women that explodes into fireworks 12 months after the last period?

I can't possibly favorite this enough times.

I had no idea how much I actively hate and resent pretty much everything associated with my menstrual/fertility cycle until I became perimenopausal and every time I get my period now I'm like again! you haven't freaking tortured me enough yet! WTF, body, get on with the menopause thing already, what's wrong with you?

Details of why I have all this hate are long and boring to everyone who isn't me, but long story short, I personally feel like on the day it's been 1 year since my last period, my period tracking software should bake me a huge chocolate cake, buy me a beautiful piece of commemorative jewelry, and send me a discreet reminder that says "It's been one year since your last period! Go out and have amazingly hot, unprotected sex with a complete stranger tonight, because you WON'T GET PREGNANT!"

(Yes, I know there are other reasons not to have unprotected sex with strangers, and I have no intention of actually celebrating in that way, but still..... did I mention that in addition to lots of other nice things, on that day I also WON'T GET PREGNANT!!!)
....

(Also, slightly more on-topic, I currently really like the Victorian brothel look, and would be wicked psyched if my gyn's office looked like that, but I can also remember a time not all that long ago when I would have hated and been offended by it, so I can totally see why this can be an emotional issue with a huge well of gender-ideology pain under it depending on one's various lived experiences).
posted by shiawase at 12:03 PM on March 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


Isn't there a vast, vast area between "steely, stony rooms where men told me what I needed to do and gave me zero useful information" and spaces that are "aggressively feminine such that men would get super uncomfortable about it?" That seems like a false dichotomy.
posted by muddgirl at 12:18 PM on March 3, 2015


I don't know. There weren't for me. Other women's mileage may vary. But as a result of the one, what I found myself wanting was the other.
posted by corb at 12:21 PM on March 3, 2015


(looking to one side of the room) Now, I think it's safe to say that the people who DON'T like pink and flowers and shit aren't trying to take it away from the people who DO, they just want the option to NOT have to look at it. I mean, I hear you, but imagine if the only option available to you were if all OB/GYN offices were designed to resemble Superman's Fortress of Solitude or the squad room from Barney Miller or something. If you weren't into Superman or Barney Miller, you'd just want the option, yeah? Yeah.

(looking to other side of the room) I also think it's safe to say that the people who DO like pink may just like it, and it's not a sign that they're giving into the patriarchy or anything, they may just like pink, or they may just not really give a shit or they're rocking it ironically or whatever.

Now - I hope that someone who's good at developing apps is getting on that Heavy Metal Period Tracker because that shit is a goldmine waiting to happen for someone.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:47 PM on March 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


(I'm with the Empress on this, and I also assumed that kinnakeet was simplifying for the sake of a good story and that there was a little more to it than that.)
posted by gingerest at 1:41 PM on March 3, 2015


Actually, now I'd really like my GYN's office to look like the first version of the Eleventh Doctor's TARDIS.

Or Mulder's office.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:47 PM on March 3, 2015


Might I request more of a glam rock-themed tracker? Shiny and glittery in silver and purple or something?
posted by gingerbeer at 2:41 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


My iPeriod tracker has a goth girl theme, although I'm not sure I totally see what's so goth about it. They also have disco. I totally think they could have glam rock or metal. And you can customize your notifications, so you could do themed notifications if you felt like it.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 2:45 PM on March 3, 2015


I had a hysterectomy at a young age, so I've never menstruated, but I have my ovaries so I still have hormonal cycles. I wanted to keep track of these so I knew whether I was having PMS or whether someone actually did need stabbing. I downloaded Clue, but a period tracker (understandably) makes the assumption that you're going to bleed at some point. It's been 78 days since my last "period" (I had to enter a date to be able to use the app). I keep waiting for it to tell me I'm pregnant.
posted by desjardins at 4:03 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Thank you all for the app and site recommendations, because this is a thing I need after my doctor told me the beginning of the end is here. I too want the cake and commemorative jewelry once the bleeding times are forever finished.
posted by immlass at 5:01 PM on March 3, 2015


terretu: "The last one I tried was called something like Period Tracker in the app store, but the text under the installed app said "P Tracker", like it was unthinkable that I'd want the word period anywhere on my phone where PEOPLE might SEE IT and KNOW that I HAD A PERIOD."

This is why they invented the term "full stop".
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 5:28 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh, and, "subcultural variation of an existing app" is probably a goldmine in general. Someone could found a Zynga-like empire on it. Goth period tracker, metal sleep cycle monitor, punk rock flashlight app, crabcore shopping list, juggalo Yo... All you'd need to do was skin the UI and customize the alerts, and you could crank out hundreds of them.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 5:32 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


You could just make the app and charge a buck for the skins.
posted by NoraReed at 8:50 PM on March 3, 2015


I just want to thank everyone in this thread for not carrying on about "sacred moon blood" and not berating those who have expressed exasperation with our monthly visitor.

I had horrific cycles that we used to describe as 28 days of rage and 10 days of carnage. Crippling cramps, migraines, puking, and the desire to set the world ablaze. I tracked it so I would know when to find a caregiver for the Monsters for a few hours a day, so I could beg in peace for Death to come fetch me. Family gathering during the Hot Zone? Ha, no. Tracking was vital.

All praise and blessings for the person who figured out extended cycle HBC and menstrual suppression. It's nice to be functional again.
posted by MissySedai at 9:45 PM on March 4, 2015


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