November 6, 2018
If you run in my circles, (queer & trans birth worker circles!) you may have heard the buzz about Clue; they are getting a lot of very deserved attention for taking a strong supportive stance on inclusivity. Firstly: it’s super important to have access to apps that are gender inclusive. Even for cis women, apps that don’t cover everything in an essentialist layer of pink. It can be important for trans folks to have an app that’s low-key, so the icon doesn’t accidentally out someone (“Why do you have this pinktacular uterus app, Pierre?”). It’s important for app developers to take a stance and speak up about gender issues. So I have been super ridiculously thrilled that Clue does exactly that. And does it well. They even have a whole section on their website for articles about Trans (Reproductive) Health. Fuck yeah. Their blog has also discussed Menstruating While Disabled, and although I can’t speak on behalf of the disability community, I know how big a deal it is that an app like this even speaks to disabled folks at all. So I like Clue.
The Clue app is a lot of fabulous things, but it is NOT sufficient to be used for folks trying to achieve or avoid pregnancy. You can use it to track your basal body temperature (BBT), which is an important aspect of charting (though the don’t let you record the time of temping, which can effect accuracy and is also important to include). But, as they say right in their app,
“BBT is most accurate when interpreted in combination with observed changes in cervical fluid and cervical position. Please note that Clue’s algorithm does not yet use your cervical fluid or cervical position data to derive any of its calculations/predictions.”
Bummer. This omission is an insta-fail for me when it comes to fertility charting. First and foremost, apps need to WORK. Being pretty and easy to navigate, and even saying great words on a blog, are all fabulous, but when it comes to fertility apps, if they don’t actually help you achieve or avoid pregnancy, what’s the point? Therefore, though I dearly dearly love Clue’s statement on trans inclusion, and think that app could be amazeballs for anyone looking for a period tracker, when it comes to actual fertility, I am prioritizing apps that work right.
They (jokingly, obnoxiously) use an icon of a bunny to record whether you had sex that day, with no option to record insemination separately. This is a common complaint of mine, as you will see, but I expected better from Clue.
You then indicate whether the sex you had was “unprotected” with an icon of flip flops vs “protected” with an icon of boots. This icon choice I actually DO find amusing, and I absolutely appreciate the idea of helping folks track when they’re using protection, whether as a contraception or to prevent STI transmission. But for those of us who are in a situation where we would never use protection (even including straight monogamous folks), it would be nice to have as a variable to turn on and off. Again, so we don’t have to record our inseminations and embryo transfers as “unprotected sex”!
I personally do not recommend Clue as a fertility charting app. I DO, however, support them as a company and wholeheartedly endorse Clue as a period tracker, for anyone who isn’t trying to conceive, or maybe someone who is TTC but whose dysphoria or other reasons prevent them from tracking cervical fluid and position anyway. (Please share your thoughts if that’s you!)
I need to add that I’m coming from a position of relative privilege, in that I feel disappointed and annoyed with overly-pink, heteronormative, “ladies” language type apps, but it isn’t triggering for me, so I’m able to put that as my second-most-important factor in my own tracking decisions, with the top priority on accuracy and usefulness. I know that other folks will choose differently, and I support that. It’s pretty effed up when someone has to choose between the app that doesn’t incite dysphoria and anxiety, and the one that has the proper algorithms to actually help them avoid or achieve pregnancy. So I’m giving you the information I have, so you can make your own best choice in this. I’m happy to answer any questions via text or email, for literally anybody who’s struggling with this.
You can get the app or read articles at the Clue website.
Tags: Fertility Charting Apps
Perinatal care specialist. Parent of two. Hosted three fetuses: my big kid, a surrogacy in the middle, and my little kid. Vegan; drinks a lot of tea. Board game (and general) geek. Goat hugger extraordinaire.
Read more about Jasper here.