February 06, 2006

Chart lust and menstrual cards

My Moon Card with colour-coded chart Marina from My Moon Cards just emailed me about a colourful deck of cards that she makes, to help women track their menstrual cycles and hormonal changes.

I think this is very interesting.

Charts show patterns better

I’m a big fan of charts (menstrual and otherwise). I use little charts to track things like billable hours, housework finished, books read, and anything else I’m interested in understanding or improving in some way. I’ve come to trust the weird maxim, “If you measure it, it will improve.”

There is an art to useful chart design. I like to think of it as biofeedback— my brain learns to use the chart as if it were sensory input, and responds accordingly. That only works if the chart is designed to show patterns at a glance. This kind of charting is intuitive and not too anal, which I think makes it useful to people (like me) who aren’t interested in recording their daily spending in dollars and cents or anything like that.

Marina’s period-tracking cards look like they are designed to show visual patterns. I haven’t seen one in person, but the low-detail photos on the website look very promising. The columns of colour-coded cycle phases seem brilliantly mnemonic. I can at least see how I could bastardize the system, if it weren’t set up to my liking.

There’s more to a cycle than bleeding

The number of colour-coded phases are the second thing I find really interesting about these cards. Daily hormone dosing keeps hitting the media in bigger and bigger ways, and all the promotions are framed using the phrase “menstrual suppression.” There’s very little discussion of the other systems that are flattened out by hormone use (blood pressure, sex drive, moods and personality, body temperature, vaginal fluids, etc...). These cards are designed to include awareness of many different body changes in a simple infographic. That’s cool.

I need to check into My Moon Cards more, but I’m kind of excited about them. I think my chart lust can overcome the fact that the card logo has some low-key hippie/goddess stylings that are not really my thing.

My cycle tracking can finally go somewhere

I’ve started tracking my various cycle symptoms several times, just out of curiosity, but it has never been particularly enlightening. A chart has a lot more potential to show cyclical patterns than the journalling I’ve used in the past. Compiling a list of things to track has always been the deterrant for me, and none of the readymade calendars (or Vinnie’s hilarious rollercoaster sticker chart) has really seemed useful for aggregating (if you will) my hormone data. These My Moon Cards have potential.

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