Would you like to better be able to predict the arrival of your seething, murderous cramps? Are you curious about the relationship between your birth control and your period? Are you so not interested in being pregnant (now or ever)? Are you averse to the pink and flowery nature of your current birth control app?
If this all sounds very compelling to you, check out Spot On, a birth control app and period tracker created by Planned Parenthood which can help you manage your current method of contraception, and understand its impact on your period and period symptoms. It’s specifically not a fertility tracker; rather, the technology behind it is aimed at integrating period tracking and birth control into one app. Spot On was designed with the input of real users, in order to make it as clear and accessible as possible. You can track how you’re feeling physically and emotionally, your activities (have you traveling? exercising?), and your menstrual flow, in addition to your birth control — did you forget to take it? If you did, what do you do now? You can also keep a sexual health history, get answers from Planned Parenthood experts, and find out where to get services. If you’re not on birth control, Spot On can still help you out — it’s for everyone who gets their period, so the app doesn’t have anything resembling “traditional” gender markers, like the color pink. There are other agender period trackers out there, such as Clue, which operates via an algorithm. so the more often you enter your information, the better the app gets at predicting your period, period symptoms, etc. Unlike Spot On, though, Clue doesn’t provide the option to explore how your birth control interacts with menstruation.
“We want people to be empowered to understand the things that matter to them,” said Jenny Friedler, Director of the Digital Product Lab at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Planned Parenthood sees millions of people every year, and we’ve heard every question out there about periods and birth control. We want to know they’re getting information from a trustworthy source, and that it’s utilizing the latest research. With this app, all of that is in one place.”
According to an October 2015 fact sheet on contraception from the Guttmacher Institute , the average US woman wants only two children, so she’ll spend about 30 years using some sort of birth control. The odds that she’ll use the same method for all that time is slim. She might start with a long-acting method like an IUD, have it taken out when she wants to get pregnant, and decide after giving birth that she’d like another method — maybe an IUD like Mirena, which contains hormones. That’s just one example of how birth control might change over time for someone, but no matter what a person is using, Spot On, as Friedler pointed out, “gives you the tools to understand what’s going on in their bodies, so you can go to your provider and say, ‘Here’s what’s happening with me.’ Then you and your doctor can work together to find you the right birth control.”
In addition to knowing when your period is coming and what your birth control is doing to your cycle, understanding menstruation is an enormous political act. People who get their periods aren’t supposed to have clarity around it, it’s a mysterious function that fells us and makes us completely unpredictable and helpless. Like the advent of birth control, a better comprehension of how our periods work gives us power over our lives and provides us with more tools for decision making. And nothing, of course, is more terrifying to folks like Donald Trump than people with vaginas who also have power.
So far, Spot On has seen a lot of downloads, and positive reviews in the iTunes store, including my personal favorite: “Finally, a period app that’s not trying to get me pregnant.”
Original by: Chanel Dubofsky