Perimenopausal Period Tracking

I read this really great article about youth feeling empowered by period tracker apps, can I find it right now, nope!

What struck me about the article was the claim that period tracking apps normalize menstruation and empower youth to talk about their periods.

It’s a very different perspective than my own feelings around tracking my period. One of the main reasons I asked for a tubal ligation after my second son’s birth was being fed up with tracking and worrying about unexpected pregnancy. My partner got a vasectomy as we had agreed we were each in charge of own bodies and baby making capacity. 

Years later at a colposcopy clinic I was getting a follow-up to an abnormal pap. The nurse asked me when my last period was. I didn’t know. She then asked what birth control I was using. In the moment it didn’t occur to me that a one time surgery constitutes “using birth control” so I said I didn’t. I was then chastised for not being careful, that I should know better and how could they take a biopsie if I was pregnant?

That always bothers me, that I am, at all costs, to always take care of any potential child, to always be on guard about being pregnant. Seriously?

I then explained the surgeries my partner and I had. The nurse again pointed out I could be pregnant and not know. I replied that in the improbable scenario that I had become pregnant I’d probably clue in after a couple months. 

That was some time ago and I hadn’t really tracked my period as it was fairly predictable and had a gentle onset. 

Not so any more! After being surprised a few times by the sudden and furious onslaught while wearing beige pants (I only own one pair! How? How is it always the beige ones?) I started wearing Luna panties every day. Yup. Always ready. 

One day my partner offered that I might find it helpful to track to see if my period really was as erratic as it seemed. 

I downloaded iperiod in August and started tracking. The cutesie design instantly annoyed me. The euphemism for sex is, get this, a Love Connection with a little heart. Oh ya. No fucking here, it’s all about the love. 

I wondered about the design and the assumptions about what is esthetic ally pleasing. If you are interested here’s an article looking at the “girlie” designs of these apps:
http://nymag.com/thecut/2013/08/period-apps-where-big-data-meets-girly-graphics.html

So after four months I’ve discovered a few things. First, my cycle does fluctuate between 21 and 30 days. It is more wonky than it used to be. 

Second, I regularly get hot flashes, pimples and lower back pain and these are related to my cycle. 

I don’t feel empowered with this information, it just is. The tracking has helped me keep it all in perspective but I’m not sure how long I’ll do it for.

  

I’d be curious to hear about your thoughts on period tracking whether you are a menstruating human or not!

About natalieh

I'm a self described fat feminist 42 year old mother of two teenage minions who loves her high energy life partner of over 20 years. I love moving my body and sometimes do yoga, triathlons and dance like a fool. My next measure of success will be being more fierce and less fearful as I roll through my 40s.

16 thoughts on “Perimenopausal Period Tracking

  1. As someone in the throes of perimenopause, I empathize with you completely. My period is almost impossible to track. It will come on suddenly every 2 weeks for a time, then go back to exactly 28 days, then start 28 days later and not stop for 14. I’m pretty sure the cutesy tracker would just piss me off completely lol! The only accurate predictor of menstruation for me at this point is the onset of the migraine, which in turn has its own predictors. Oy vey!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Tracy I says:

    I used the period tracker (that was its actual name) for years and really liked it. It also had options to track your moods alongside your cycle, and I found that helpful. It was really useful for those trips to the doctor, and helped me see clearly the change from clockwork cycles to irregular, then rare, then….none. It had flowers but I don’t remember it being cutesy (come to think of it, I can’t remember if it had sex tracking at all).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. mfennvt says:

    I recently went through a few years of wacky perimenopausal periods (turned 53 last summer). I’m now in my 7th month of no period at all and can only say, “Hallelujah!” You’ll get there. 🙂 (although yeah, I know the bleeding could come back at any time. Bodies, what can you do?)

    Oh, and I’m old school. I was doing my tracking with pen & paper. No cutesie hearts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tracy I says:

      Right! It can be so random! I had no period for more than a year and then it came on the morning of my first triathlon of the season and the longest tri I’d ever done!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Facebook won’t let me like this, but I really do! When I was younger I actually tracked my period by watching the moon, and checking its phases in the Farmer’s Almanac. I definitely think there is something to being able to better regulate when you’re tracking (when your periods are normal in general).

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  4. Stephanie says:

    I started using Monthlyinfo.com several years ago (before apps were a thing) when I was transitioning off of hormonal birth control onto a copper IUD. My periods were crazy unreliable. I had one cycle that was 80 days! I kept it up since then, and while they are much more predictable than that year or two, I am noticing that the cycles are getting shorter. At 42 I can’t tell if that’s coincidence or something meaninful. I’m definitely a tracking type of personality, so I’ll probably keep it up through menopause, just out of habit, and to see if it sheds any light on things once that time comes.

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  5. I’ve been using a tracker (mine does not have as many symbols and icons as yours!) for years and it’s a great reminder. I can plan ahead for trips and cottage visits. Even though I’m super-regular, I forget when it’s due. I’m also waiting for erratic timing as I near menopause. When it pops up on my home screen reminding me I’m 5 days away I announce it to anyone in earshot!

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  6. Sadie says:

    There are a lot of good non-cutesy apps. (but ugh SO MANY cutesy/girlie ones.) I used to use a desktop program for years and when I wanted to graduate to a mobile app I went through a LOT of them.

    I ended up using Ovuview which works really well, lets you track custom events/symptoms, and can back up your data several different ways. It may be Android only though, not sure. I also love the wheel display that shows the whole month at once. Clue is nice and decidedly NOT cutesy but it was too simplistic for me (symptoms were yes/no rather than a scale of 1-4 when I tried it).

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  7. Jean says:

    Interesting. Honest, terrible me, didn’t track my periods properly. I could never predict my period to the actual day of accuracy whereas some women can.

    Now, well, I don’t need to track any period. Haven’t had one for past 3 years or more.

    Natalieh, wishing you some years of not too much hassle or sweats as you approach menopause.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. cautiouslygregarious says:

    I have been tracking my period for about a year or so now as they shifted from clockwork 28 days to anything from 21 to 31. I have been through a 12 month period (ha!) Of thyroid hormone/medication adjustment and everything else went a bit haywire too. So now I am tracking to see what my ‘new normal’ is. I agree that it is also helpful to track moods, bloating, breast tenderness etc and also – I tend to become a carbohydrate eating machine about 5 days out. So when I am eating my 4th piece of jam on toast in a row thinking ‘why am I doing this??? ‘ I can check and see – “oh yes, due in 4 days” and give myself a bit of a break.

    Like Tracy I used the period tracker when I had an iPhone. Now I have this ridiculous android app with a kitten talking to you. I just ignore that and use the tools which are OK.

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  9. Net says:

    I just write the dates they appear in Notes on my iPad. No special app… I had one a few years ago, but it entailed too much botheration and they were pretty regular back then. Now they are all over the place (I’m 50 in a month). I had a doozy one last week after not having one for 5 months. I was actually at the point of feeling chuffed that my menopause was so easy…

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  10. alex baron says:

    I have been tracking for literally three and a half decades originally on paper then using hormone forecaster which was a fantastic program back in my Old palm days. once on this to Android I’ve been using womanlog it’s serviceable but lacks much of the bells and whistles that made hormonal forecaster so fantastic. no I’ve had a few irregular periods however it has been difficult to tell whether that has been fluctuations in my thyroid wreaking havoc or just time as it is. I really like tracking I like knowing my body that intimately and being where the different ways my hormones affect the way I interact with life. no I’m one of those oddballs whos looked forward to her Period and has never actually minded having it. I actually adventure nit looking forward to losing mine once menopause hits. I have been using cloth pads for a little longer than tracking and a cup for about 25 years these i also like for the same reason. Womanlog isn’t particularly girly cutesy though not as basic design as hormone forecaster

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  11. […] on trying to conceive, and many of them are annoyingly ‘girly’ (as noted here in one of my favourite blogs). But I chose ‘Clue’, because it was free and I liked the design, and then I was thrilled to […]

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