Health

Tech Journalists Are Losing Their Minds Over Period-Tracking App Conspiracies—Here’s The Truth Behind These Concerns

By Gwen Farrell
·  6 min read
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In an information age, we’ve never been more privileged to have groundbreaking research right at our fingertips, composed and disseminated by dedicated journalists and media corporations. Or so we might think.

If the last five years have taught us anything, it’s that we really can’t trust these organizations not to have their own interests at the forefront of their media. Take our own publication, for example. An entire year before the mainstream media decided it was acceptable to cover the harsh side effects many women were suffering due to the Covid vaccine, we broke the story. And for our trouble, we were branded conspiracy theorists and dangerous agents of misinformation. Cut to 12 months later, and larger institutions and bastions of the corporate media were suddenly deciding it was acceptable to propagate the research we investigated a year before.

For the most part, the media has decided to sweep the vaccine’s detrimental effects on menstrual cycles under the rug. But now, because a post-Roe environment demands it, they’re coming for period tracking apps. Tech journalists are losing their minds over these conspiracies, but here’s the truth behind these concerns.

Myth #1: Period Tracking Apps Are “Dangerous”

Since the overturning of Roe v. Wade earlier this fall, progressive activists and their media allies have made it their mission to specifically target period-tracking apps. It’s estimated that a third of American women, at least until recently, were using these apps to track their cycles and either reinforce hormonal birth control use or fertility-awareness based contraceptive methods, or using them to try to get pregnant. There are tons of apps out there to choose from according to your specific preferences, but many apps let women track the length and flow of their periods, their basal body temperature, their sexual encounters, and other aspects of their health, like their sleep schedules, medication use, and daily energy levels. Many apps are customizable according to these different criteria, which you can add and subtract from your profile.

In the wake of our country’s foremost abortion legislation protections being revoked and sent back to the states and their discretion, journalists and activists began urging women to delete their period-tracking apps. The widespread fear, which many of these companies have since addressed through using “anonymous profiles” which remove the personal information of the user from the app, is that their personal health information could be subpoenaed and used against them, were they to find themselves with an unplanned pregnancy and facing criminal charges if they ended their pregnancy – an abhorrent claim which no state has yet to take action on.

Now, at the urging of activists and journalists, frightened women are deleting their cycle-tracking apps in droves. But, if we’re thinking critically, doesn’t it benefit us to know more about our bodies, not less? And how is the crowd which constantly labels a woman’s reproductive decisions as private and sacred information suddenly discouraging women from using the very tools which enable them to make informed decisions? 

With this claim, a line of demarcation has been drawn in the sand. There are those who are comfortable and even think it’s preferable to know as little about their bodies as possible. They’re then forced into relying on the medical establishment, the pharmaceutical industry, and, yes, abortion as “healthcare” when their bodies eventually do what they were naturally designed to do. And then there are those who know that true empowerment lies in being as knowledgeable about our bodies as possible.

Myth #2: These Apps Are Not “Pro Women”

You would think that feminists would be especially fond of an app that gives a woman more information about her body, enabling her to dictate when she has sex. Unfortunately, they’re a group that’s rarely, if ever, pleased.

“Period tracking apps are not for women,” writes one journalist, accusing the femtech industry of being a secret cabal run by shady, greedy men who want to control women’s bodies. The supposed evidence behind this is largely due to the fact that in the early, early days of “menstruapps,” as they’re often known, apps were started by tech insiders and their venture capitalist allies who were, in fact, men.

The femtech industry is accused of being a secret cabal run by shady, greedy men who want to control women’s bodies. 

There’s also the accusation that these apps serve a bigger purpose for a male-led sexual surveillance state which exclusively targets women and wants them to get pregnant more than anything else. Heaven forbid, women learn about their fertility. But, contrary to popular belief, it is possible to learn about your fertility while avoiding pregnancy. Fertility isn’t a dirty word, but to any progressive, it’s the newest epithet hurled at women, or these days, “menstruators.” 

And that’s clearly the issue here, at least for this journalist. “It is deeply weird and makes me feel alienated from my own body, to tattle on it in such a precise, point-by-point way,” she admits. But if it were the goal of a sexual surveillance state to impregnate every female in the country, wouldn’t they want us to be more alienated from the signals our bodies give us, which many women have become more familiar with through using these apps? She even closes with “don’t bother tracking your health. It isn’t worth anything.” Except that it’s worth everything – whether we’re trying to avoid pregnancy or not.

Myth #3: Menstruapps Are Inaccurate

Femtech apps, when they’re not labeled dangerous or otherwise, are often characterized as inaccurate. There’s some truth to this. It was nearly a decade ago when these apps first started to become popular, and they weren’t as savvy as they are now, as with almost any technology.

Here’s the thing. Apps like these are only as accurate as you make them. If you’re documenting your basal body temperature, cervical mucus, sex, and period, you shouldn’t have any reason to believe you’re not getting the best information based on what you’re documenting. There’s a margin for error, as there is with anything else. Those who are well-versed in fertility awareness-based methods know that there’s a difference between heavily relying on this kind of information as predictions and using it as valuable information we can lean on with regards to learning our body’s fertile cues, trying to get pregnant, or not trying to get pregnant. 

Femtech apps are much more user-friendly and smarter than they used to be, and it’s likely that they’ll only become more finely tuned. If we’re putting in little to no effort with regard to tracking our cycles using an app, then we shouldn’t be surprised if it can’t give us the most intuitive, up-to-date info.

Closing Thoughts

It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about period-tracking apps or literally any other subject. We’d do well to steer clear of anything the media has to say about what dictates our lives, especially our biological functions and our reproductive knowledge. If you’ve used a period-tracking app and don’t care for it, that’s one thing. But if you’re avoiding them specifically because a coastal elite with an agenda who knows nothing about your life tells you to, you might benefit from re-examining what power this kind of technology can give us.

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