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The Rise of Femtech: An Interview with Ida Tin

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Ida Tin, Danish entrepreneur and author, is the co-founder and CEO of Clue, a menstrual cycle tracking app. Tin has been named Female Web Entrepreneur of the Year at the Slush Conference in 2015. Clue has become increasingly popular, not only among the medical community, but also with women around the world. The design is simple, the main colors being white and red, no pink and no flower. Ida Tin is also accredited with coining the term “femtech.”

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What is Clue, for those who don’t know?

Clue is a female health app that helps you understand your menstrual cycle so you can discover how to live a full and healthy life. Women and people with cycles use Clue to know when their period is coming, when they are more or less likely to get pregnant, to track birth control, moods, symptoms, pains and more. Clue is one of the most popular apps in the health category and has been rated the top free period tracker app by the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, a publication of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Clue partners with leading universities, including Stanford, Columbia, Oxford, and the University of Washington, to contribute to new advances in female health research.

Why do you think Clue has become so big?

I think the main reason Clue has become so popular is because it is something that was needed. When I dreamed up the idea of Clue, I felt that there had been very little innovation in family planning since the pill came out. I was wondering how it could be that we managed to walk on the moon but that most women still don't know which days they can or can’t get pregnant. I personally needed such a tool to manage that very important part of my life, and I was convinced that many other women would find an app like Clue not only very useful but also very empowering.

What makes Clue different, as a period tracker and as a company?

Clue is about more than simply knowing when your period is coming. It helps you track and discover the patterns in your cycle that impact your daily life, so you can gain a better understanding of your overall health. Additionally, all the content in Clue is backed up by the latest scientific research - so you know you are getting the most trustworthy, accurate information about your health.

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How is the app personalized and how is Clue planning to further personalize it?

Users can track their period, fertile window, PMS, moods, pains, symptoms, exercise, medication, birth control usage, and notes about their cycle, in order to gain a better understanding of their own patterns and personal trends. When you are able to identify patterns that are unique to you, you feel more in control of your own body, and better able to manage the changes that are taking place within it.

Clue’s ongoing goal is to continue advancing research into female health, and to make basic information about reproductive health more accessible. It would be safe to predict that tracking apps and gadgets will become increasingly intuitive in the future, and will eventually monitor everything from heart rate and blood pressure to stress levels to amount of and quality of movement, ultimately capturing data that will allow us to better understand both our emotional and physical wellbeing. This amount of data can only be a good thing, as it will offer doctors instant access to a far more detailed, personalized, and accurate medical history.


How is Clue combatting the stigma and misconceptions that so often surround menstruation?

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The biggest challenge since Clue's launch directly relates to the lack of resources women have when it comes to their health -- whether due to a lack of scientific research or due to societal taboos. Paving the way for an entirely new space, Femtech, and opening up the dialogue globally has been one of the biggest, and most exciting, challenges we've faced building Clue. These misconceptions and stigmas exist because of a lack of research into, and understanding of, menstruation. We are working to combat these through numerous studies and collaborative research, such as our international survey that looked into menstrual taboos.

Our ultimate goal is to completely move female health away from its status as ‘niche’ and get to a stage where society can openly discuss menstrual health without hesitation. You wouldn’t think twice to mention that you have a headache or sore throat, for example, and when people feel as comfortable talking about cramps or other period related symptoms, only then have we managed to fully break down the stigma surrounding them.

If you knew nothing about the industry you’re currently in, how would you describe it?

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I would certainly recognise it as a growing industry, as more and more femtech is emerging, but I probably wouldn’t realise just how underrepresented femtech was in the beginning, and still is to an extent. Reproductive health is an incredibly foundational and central part of our lives, but there’s a real lack of clarity for women over this generally.
 

An Open Letter to Period Shamers

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Dear Period Shamers,

    Saumya here. I just wanted to say… where do I start. Okay, how about with the fact that my period is none of your business. You are not my doctor, you don’t get to tell me what is healthy and what isn’t.

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Why do you feel so strongly about the fact that I am on my period, anyways? I don’t care if you consider me your friend, unless you’re telling me that I have blood on my favorite white pants, I don’t care. You can have an opinion, you just can’t have an opinion about MY period. Did you catch that?

MY period. Mine. Not yours.

    It irks me even more if you are someone who has never had a period. What do you know about how a period feels? Nothing. You know nothing. If you think my period is disgusting, why are you here? No one asked you to come and share your opinion on something you have no personal experiences with. My biology is not something that should be ridiculed.

Do I even have to tell you that people like you are the reason why society still exiles women during their periods or treats them as touchy and irrational? I guess I do, because obviously you are completely ignorant of those facts. Guess what? Women are still not treated as equals, and while you aren’t the whole reason why, you certainly are a part of it.

You might not even realize you are doing it, so here’s a checklist. If you seriously ask women if they are on their period when they’re mad, call women unfit to lead because they are “irrational”, explain things to them like you would a child when they’re mad, etc., you’re probably a period-shamer, and you should stop.

Now let’s move on to a list of things people like you have caused. I cried when I got my period because I thought it was a bad thing. Thanks, period-shamers. My mom didn’t even know what a period was until she got hers because her mom and sisters were ashamed to talk about it. Thanks, period-shamers. I am always self-conscious about whether or not I’m leaking, even when I’m not on my period. Thanks, period-shamers.

Sincerely,

Saumya

 

How to Deal With the Worst Part of Each Month: Period Pain

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By: Saumya Bajaj

This is literally my body: “You. You have yet again not passed on your genes this month. You must now be punished with week-long bleeding, cramps, and soreness.” Now, there has to be some kind of loophole here, some kind of solution to the pain. And, guess what, there are multiple solutions; however, it is important to note that if your cramps are so unbearable that it hurts to move every time you get your period, you should see a doctor. You might just need to get prescription-strength painkillers, or it might be a serious condition such as endometriosis.

    Now, here are some effective ways to lessen cramps, headaches, soreness, and just general pain:

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  • Painkillers.Whether it be ibuprofen or aspirin, the most obvious solution is a painkiller. They’re quick, effective, and most people’s go-to.

  • Hot Water Bottle. This one is my go-to. It really helps, especially with cramps, the only downside being you have to be stationary while using it.

  • Heating Strips. These are essentially the solution to the stationary problem with a hot water bottle. You can use them while at school, work, the gym, or anywhere else you desire. They are inconspicuous and a great pain reliever.

  • Exercise. Multiple studies have shown that exercise is super helpful to relieve cramps and soreness. I know it’s the last thing you want to do, but it does help.

  • Give Up Caffeine. You probably want to kill me, but, I mean, technically it is a drug, and you can be addicted to it. Maybe some herbal tea? Even citrus fruits help.

  • A nice relaxing massage. Do I need to say anything else?

  • Happiness. The release of endorphins have been shown to help relieve pain. Find a way to make yourself happy. “Treat yo self.”

 

Now We’ve Got Bad Blood: The Taboo on Menstruation

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By: Sarah Karkoura

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The period taboo has permeated every outlet of our culture. From Stephen King’s Carrie to NPR questioning if women even need periods, menstruation, and subsequently womanhood, has been deemed a burden to society. In a world where we are taking initiative to propel gender equality, how can we expect women to feel equal when they are shunned for their womanhood?

When I had my first period, I did not see it as something shameful. In fact, I walked around my home with pride, announcing my transition into womanhood to everyone I saw, including my father. It wasn’t until I walked out of my sheltered home that I got the wakeup call. At school everyone was ashamed when their period arrived, as if it was D Day. Girls asked for tampons so secretively it was as if they were initiating a drug deal. This is a bodily process experienced by 50% of the population, so why is there so much stigma regarding something so common?

It’s time we each take our own step to end the menstruation taboo. The next time you get your period, celebrate instead of mourn. The next time you see someone ignorant about menstrual hygiene, introduce them to a world free of shame and full of knowledge. The next time you need to ask for a tampon or pad, don’t be hush. Don’t be quiet. Ask loud and proud.