To say that my period and I haven’t always been on the best terms would definitely be an understatement.
Surrounded by everything I’d absorbed in my pre-teen years – among them several readings of Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret – it wasn’t just a matter of if I would get my period, but when. At the time, in my innocence, I’d wondered if this rite of passage would be exciting, thrilling, the next chapter in my ascent to womanhood. Little did I know that once the floodgates were opened (no pun intended), I’d be cursing both myself and Aunt Flo for my naivety.
The first few cycles were fairly uneventful, coming and going without much warning – or much advance notice. I frequently had to make the dreaded call to my mom from the nurse’s office, the one you hope only exists in health books and movies, the one where I had to ask her to bring me an additional pair of jeans. It was mortifying, to say the least. I knew I couldn’t be the only one this was happening to, but in the moment, it was tough to remind myself of that fact.
Somewhere along the way, my stealthy cycle was replaced by something much more insidious. If in the early years, menstruation was a ninja, announcing its presence without a single sign of PMS, the years that followed could have been compared to the Hulk. I was reduced to a sobbing, shaking bundle of nerves, curled up in the fetal position with one of my mom’s trusty rice socks tucked against my poor abused uterus. I missed school several times during that first and worst day of my cycle, and the pain was so unbearable that it led me to seek out several remedies.
Ultimately, it was time that was on my side – time to recognize the signs from my body and to know how to deal with them, not to mention some extra-strength Ibuprofen to kick any cramps in the butt. It’s possible that I just wasn’t paying close enough attention before – but it could also be that I didn’t have the benefit of my smartphone and any one of several period tracker apps at my disposal.
The app that really made a difference for me was a little unassuming application called Clue. Ida Tin, Berlin-based CEO and founder, used it primarily as a fertility tool when she was trying to get pregnant – but the app’s multifunctional nature makes it perfect for more than that.
In addition to tracking the overall menstrual cycle, users can enter data about when their PMS occurs or if they’re experiencing mood swings or any other pain. The more information received by the app, the more accurate it becomes at predicting when the next cycle will occur thanks to a handy-dandy algorithm. There’s even a reminder that can be turned on to remind the user to take birth control, which will show up as a notification on the phone screen.
The other reason I use Clue is because it’s not one of those frilly or flowery period tracker apps. In fact, it’s really not obvious that it’s a period tracker app at all. It’s a neat, clean way to monitor something that shouldn’t be that big of a deal anyway – and it provides peace of mind above all else.
Developers, take note: maybe the next step should be an app that gets rid of cramps altogether? Just a thought.