Examining Menstrual Tracking to Inform the Design of Personal Informatics Tools

CHI, pp. 6876-6888, 2017.

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Keywords:
Menstrual trackinginclusivitylived informaticsmenstrual cycleperiodMore(2+)
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Little attention has been paid to tracking factors specific to women’s health1, including where a woman is in her menstrual cycle

Abstract:

We consider why and how women track their menstrual cycles, examining their experiences to uncover design opportunities and extend the field's understanding of personal informatics tools. To understand menstrual cycle tracking practices, we collected and analyzed data from three sources: 2,000 reviews of popular menstrual tracking apps, a...More

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Introduction
  • Personal tracking for self-knowledge is commonplace, from recording finances for accountability to tracking location for pure curiosity.
  • HCI has further considered designs for technology supporting pregnancy and motherhood, including rethinking the experience of breastfeeding [4,10] and aiding in tracking child development [22,39].
  • Peyton et al describe a pregnancy ecology to aid in design, shifting from a focus on a woman’s activity, diet, and weight tracking to supporting her information seeking, self-knowledge, and social needs [34]
Highlights
  • Personal tracking for self-knowledge is commonplace, from recording finances for accountability to tracking location for pure curiosity
  • Relatively little attention has been paid to tracking factors specific to women’s health1, including where a woman is in her menstrual cycle
  • We identify six common methods: using dedicated apps, recording in digital calendars, using paper calendars or diaries, following birth control intakes or schedules, noticing early bodily symptoms, and remembering. A discussion of problems and issues associated with menstrual cycle tracking
  • The study of menstrual cycle tracking builds on prior research in technology for women’s health and personal tracking
  • To understand whether menstrual tracking practices differ in a generation who grew up with apps available or if practices differ based on experience with menstruation, we developed the survey to reach both teenagers (13-18) and adults (18+)
  • Our research emphasizes the importance of designing for inclusion, acceptable accuracy, and discreetness in personal informatics
Conclusion
  • The authors' findings echo problems people encounter in many personal informatics domains. People migrate between goals and tools for tracking their menstrual cycles as their needs change.
  • Li et al define personal informatics tools as “those that help people collect personally relevant information for the purpose of self-reflection and gaining self-knowledge” [25].
  • This definition is broad, most research has focused on tracking behaviors and outcomes in support of behavior change or tuning.
  • The authors' research emphasizes the importance of designing for inclusion, acceptable accuracy, and discreetness in personal informatics
Summary
  • Introduction:

    Personal tracking for self-knowledge is commonplace, from recording finances for accountability to tracking location for pure curiosity.
  • HCI has further considered designs for technology supporting pregnancy and motherhood, including rethinking the experience of breastfeeding [4,10] and aiding in tracking child development [22,39].
  • Peyton et al describe a pregnancy ecology to aid in design, shifting from a focus on a woman’s activity, diet, and weight tracking to supporting her information seeking, self-knowledge, and social needs [34]
  • Objectives:

    This paper aims to promote a conversation surrounding menstrual cycle tracking within HCI.
  • Conclusion:

    The authors' findings echo problems people encounter in many personal informatics domains. People migrate between goals and tools for tracking their menstrual cycles as their needs change.
  • Li et al define personal informatics tools as “those that help people collect personally relevant information for the purpose of self-reflection and gaining self-knowledge” [25].
  • This definition is broad, most research has focused on tracking behaviors and outcomes in support of behavior change or tuning.
  • The authors' research emphasizes the importance of designing for inclusion, acceptable accuracy, and discreetness in personal informatics
Tables
  • Table1: We collected data from three sources: app store reviews, a survey of women’s practices, and follow-up interviews
  • Table2: The majority of survey respondents used phone apps to keep track of their menstrual cycles
Download tables as Excel
Funding
  • This work was sponsored in part by the Intel Science and Technology Center for Pervasive Computing, the University of Washington Innovation Research Award, the AHRQ under award 1R21HS023654, and the NSF under awards SCH-1344613 and IIS-1553167
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