So here’s something I never thought I would announce on a national news website: I’m off the pill.
(Relax, Mum – there’s not a grandchild on the way.)
A few months back – six, actually – I decided to step off the pill train. It was a quiet dismount, no song and dance, no impassioned speeches about how or why.
I just felt that after close to a decade of being completely and utterly shocked every month when my period arrived – What? This, again?!– it would be kinda nice to know it was coming. Get back to basics.
So, I decided to ditch the one thing that was turning me into a lazy menstruator, and take myself off the contraceptive pill. I would reconnect with my body. I would cut the cord to those bitter little pills. I would return to nature. I would be earth woman extraordinaire.
So, I did what any iPhone-dependent millennial would do, and downloaded an app.
My period-tracking app is called Eve, and it's equal parts annoying and accurate. Move over Siri, my new personal assistant knows me better than many of my human friends. *Sobs*
Basically, there are two areas of input from the user: firstly, you track your period from the first day to the last in the app's calendar. This way you can review your cycle, and pretty much pinpoint the exact day you're due.
Secondly, you regularly log a variety of symptoms. Daily, weekly, or as I prefer, 'whenever I remember'; you rate how you're feeling in terms of food, sex, sleep, skin, mood, bloating, and other PMS symptoms. The nifty part about the log is that you can start tracking trends in your own body around your menstrual cycle.
(For example, 48 hours before my period is due, I will - without fail - have a tantrum. Last month it was about Doritos. Who knows what will set me off for September.)
This aside, the best part of the Eve period tracker is that I can pretty much tell, to the day, when to expect my period. And more specifically, when to expect the Monthly Meltdown.
And for someone in a long term relationship, that is great news not just for me - but for my partner, too.
In the same way that I was consistently shocked each month when my period arrives (WHAT? TODAY? AGAIN? WHEN WILL THIS STOP?), my long-suffering boyfriend was shocked each month when, for no good reason, I would start screaming at him over an empty bag of Doritos. Or a kitchen sponge. Or Mondays.
Was it us? I used to think. Was it him? Was it me?
Nope, says Eve, period tracker and/or relationship saver. It's just your hormones.
The Eve 'Cycle Scope' is updated daily, and will give you up-to-minute reviews on just how monstrous you are expected to be for that day. Check out my scope for today:
So anyway, I promise you that getting in touch with your sensitive side will reap more benefits than booking 'Netflix and binge-eating barbeque Shapes in bed' into your calendar in advance. It can also give your partner plenty of warning to batten down the hatches (and bags of Doritos).
Eve sends out a little alert a week before your period is due, complete with topic emojis such as <dancing lady in red dress>, <glass of red wine>, and <exploding volcano>. Charming.
Screenshot it, send it on to your partner, and the hard work is done. All they need to do is gear up in their fencing outfit and hope for the best.
And before you leap down my throat with battle cries of 'FEMINISM! SISTERHOOD! SCREW WHAT HE THINKS!' just know that you should take this with a grain of salt.
Yes, I know that my period is no-one's business but my own. (Well, and yours now, too.)
Yes, I know that we don't need to apologise for becoming a PMS monster once a month.
And yes, I even know that 'warning' your partner of an upcoming period seems archaic.
But if you could just put down your sword for one minute, and tell me honestly: wouldn't you like to know if there was going to be a hormonal cyclone on the horizon?
I don't discuss my period out of courtesy, it's because my partner and I are a team. And we share our lives with each other. And part of that is giving him the heads up to make sure we have a well-stocked pantry by the 15th of every month.
Oh, and might I add - just because he has warning, does not mean he's obliged to cater to my every whim. Quite the contrary.
Most of the coverage around using the 'Rhythm Method' (that is, tracking your fertile window each month) focuses on the health benefits. You can stop feeding your body unnatural and artificial hormones, you can better detect any health issues if your cycle changes, and you can even use it to fall pregnant.
(Again, Mum, this isn't me.)
They're all valid points. But beyond the literal health benefits, there's something to be said for being forced to watch and listen to your body's natural movements.
Like I've mentioned, I never had any clue about when my period was coming. It was an unwanted surprise every month. The pill acted as an opaque barrier between myself and my period: I was almost disconnected from the whole process. My only participation in the routine was to try and not forget to take that little yellow pill every day. And survive PMS.
And now? I have been dragged, kicking and screaming, into the wild world of womanhood. I need to be in touch with when my period is arriving. I need to be on the lookout for inconsistencies. I need to be vigilant if those Dorito and Malbec cravings don't come knocking by the 14th each month because, ya know ~babies~.
While I'm not fully without my training wheels yet - thanks, Eve - I am on my way to finding a closer connection with my body, and what it's trying to tell me.
Now, to find an app that can translate these damn spots on my chin...
Do you avoid using the 'Period' word?