Why I’m Studying My Period (and the App That’s Helping Me Do It)

Why I'm Studying My Period (and the app that's helping me do it)

My mom came up for a visit a few weeks ago. We had decided to take a road trip to horse-country Kentucky when my period came on full-force, angry, like a red-hot bull ready to bowl me over. I was ugly-cramping before 9 am, already knocking down pills and keeping my seat warmer on its highest level. I knew it was going to be a long day, and I bled through a super tampon before lunch.

The intensity of this period is not unusual for me (look no further than this full-disclosure essay), but it prompted a conversation about my hormonal health, something that’s been on my mind for a long time. I told my mom that I was interested in learning more about it because I’ve read a lot online that suggests that my problems are rooted in my endocrine system. However, hormones are confusing to me—why do they all do something different?—and I yearned for something that was going to simplify the process, without me having to spend a zillion dollars on different health coaches, detoxes, medicines, whatever.

A few days later, an e-mail about hormones showed up in my inbox from mindbodygreen. I was interested and read the whole thing. At the end of the article, it asked: “Need to know if your period needs a makeover? Discover your hormonal imbalance with the Period-Type Quiz.”

I took it, and my results were spot-on (pun intended). It pegged my PMS symptoms and even the color of my period. I was also fairly alarmed to learn that my specific hormonal imbalances could lead to problems down the road, from miscarriages to increased risk of diabetes, cancer, and dementia. So when they tried to sell me their period-tracking app with personalized advice for how to combat these problems, I bought it almost immediately. (It’s $2. Not that difficult to part with when you see the word cancer.)

The MyFlo app is incredible. I’m not getting a kick-back or anything from these people. I’m telling you—free of charge—it’s incredible. I gifted the app to my sisters and my mom, showed it to every girlfriend, and let it teach me the valuable lesson of being in-tune and helpful to my body. It takes the guesswork, math, and research out of taking care of yourself as a woman, and I especially love that it focuses on several areas—work, relationships/love, fitness, food—to maximize the different phases of your cycle.

What does this have to do with Journal Her?

I had the opportunity to study feminist literary theory during undergrad, and one of the things that we say characterizes feminine writing is its cyclical nature. It comes from the biological truth that woman have naturally occurring cycles because of our bodies, highs and lows that come from the inside and manifest themselves in different moods, priorities, energy levels, etc. This app gets right at the heart of that phenomenon and makes studying it accessible. You should have heard me squeal with delight when the pieces of my education and my reality started coming together for me. I was downright giddy (and ovulating apparently!).

Since studying feminist literary theory, I’ve been eager to study the science of womanhood alongside female literary output. I know it sounds ludicrous for an English major to say this, but I’ve been frustrated by the exclusion of science in the English classroom. All of human experience comes from the body, the brain—why wouldn’t we study that to become more critical readers? Pop psychology books are my favorite “for-fun” reading genre for the simple reason that I yearn to know how we work in every capacity. And in my own little niche of the English world, I believe that diaries, journals, personal essays, and memoirs have layers of science to uncover and interpret as well.

Now that I have this app and am learning more about my hormones, I’m interested in seeing the effects of my cycle on my journaling and writing. When was I ovulating? Menstruating? What difference did that make? I want to see if my writing backs up what science is telling me. And if it is, I think feminist literary theory has a lot of room to grow, starting with the exciting inclusion of science at the table.

I encourage you to check out the app and stay tuned for a lot of fun follow-up here on Journal Her! Things are definitely going to get interesting.

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