Period Trackers Unite

Tara Pokras, The Unmentionables’ Women’s Health Advocate

There is nothing like syncing up with your besties on your period. Imagine doing it around the world! As an organization that focuses on reproductive health and menstrual hygiene, we thought it would be fun to have our team members bond over tracking their periods and their experiences along the way. For three months, we had staff members use our work platform to discuss, share pictures, and comment on their periods. I created a group called “Period Trackers” and 13 team members joined in. We tried out seven different period tracking apps including Clue, Flo, My Calendar Period, Tracker Lite, Spot On, Femm, and Life.

Some initial comments included:

“I'm trying Femm and it already weirds me out! Sample day 3 notification in app, according to website: "Your slippery observation indicates fertility; multiple days of slippery..." Also, I've never thought of the verb "achieve" before "pregnancy"...”
“I changed from Femm to SpotOn. It has dinosaurs!”
“Also just started with Clue! While it doesn’t have dinosaurs, I really love how it lets you input feedback on mood, energy, etc. every day. And even though it’s a little doomsday-ish, gotta say I like how it tells me when I’m going to PMS next.”

We even started talking about non-menstruators or our partners tracking our periods alongside us! As time went on, we discovered….

“Things learnt from tracking my period thus far:
1. I am not good at tracking my period.
2. I am not good at taking birth control on time.
3. Because of reasons 1 & 2, I should probably get better at tracking my period.”

Overall, the top trackers we liked were Clue, Flo, and Spot On. We also learned that it is really difficult to actually stay on top of the app, as it was easy to ignore the reminders. We enjoyed the apps that had the combination of birth control and period reminders. Finally, we discovered that “phantom periods” are a thing (yay IUDs!).

One teammate commented:

“I have really enjoyed Flow! It gives you personalized insights based on the symptoms that you log and really useful tips to help alleviate negative symptoms! It also lets you know if/when your period is late, and explains some reasons why you might have that (other than being pregnant)...”

There is an unspoken understanding between those that menstruate and have to manage their monthly visitor. The cycle is all too familiar, as many of our menstrual mavens on staff here at The Unmentionables have experienced it for years. Some MHM experts will argue that providing “hardware” such as bathrooms and period products is key to a good intervention, but in order to change behaviors, education or the “software” is needed too. Tracking periods either by hand, with beads, a dial, or even a digital app have become essential to many in family planning and tracking general reproductive health. Even the new FitBit is going to have a menstrual tracking component (about time!). The more knowledge we gain about our bodies and cycles, the better we can understand ourselves and what we need to nourish them. That is why MHM education is a core component of our programming and will continue to be. We our proud to celebrate Menstrual Hygiene Day with our staff, trainers, and the global refugee community we serve.

Bianca Settino