One of the sole joys of menstruation is getting to chat about it with female friends. Almost everything else about it sucks. Cramps, bloating, migraines, bleeding, et cetera, et cetera—it's all pretty terrible. But to complain about these egregious symptoms amidst a safe coven of other menstruating folk is delightful!
Period chat is equal parts cathartic and important. Yes, it's comforting to seek sympathy for those REALLY AWFUL cramps you had Monday, but it also helps you learn more about what is normal and abnormal in your nether regions. Now, there's a phone app that takes those IRL chats and turns them into a social network for discussing all things period, sex, and birth control.
Well, it's sort of a social network. This girly forum is included within Ruby—a new female-centric health tracking app from Glow. Like other period and sex tracking apps, Ruby users can input period data (as well as specific symptom notes), as well as track sexual activity and contraceptive use and a slew of other metrics.
But unlike other tracking apps, Ruby comes equipped with a community tab for those times when you have a question about whatever is going on down below, need some answers, and don't feel like calling a friend or doctor to discuss in detail.
As Jennifer Tye, Ruby's VP of marketing, told Fusion, other Glow apps (like this one, which credits itself for helping 25,000 women get pregnant) have a community aspect as well. While those networks are more about fertility, conception, and pregnancy, the Ruby community will include rooms for discussing different types of contraception, sex questions, and general period talk. Users can pick and choose which rooms to enter.
Those community rooms will be filled with other Ruby users, but, for tougher issues, Tye said they'll also be populated by experts from the online birth control support network Bedsider, with which Ruby has partnered. So if another menstruating or sexually active woman in the Ruby community can't help you out, one of Ruby's curated experts might be able to. It's like Period Chat 2.0.
To ensure that the community rooms are free of trolls, Tye told Fusion that Ruby has people monitoring activity, and requires anyone who participates in the rooms to first have an account on the app. The whole point is for those rooms to be a safe place, where women can feel free to discuss even their most intimate (and sometimes nastiest) sex and period details.
Of course, there are already plenty of other apps built for tracking period, sex, and other lifestyle data—Apple's new iOS update will even include tracking for those metrics through its HealthKit. But Ruby's community aspect, with its nexus of experts, could make it stand out from the crowd a bit.
Think of Ruby as a women's locker room you can carry with you in your pocket—a ladies-only space where women can feel a sense of mutual trust in those around them. Sounds pretty great! There's always time for more period chat.
Hannah Smothers is a reporter for Fusion's Sex & Life section, a Texpat, and a former homecoming princess.