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Fitbit’s New Period Tracker Leaves Some Women Out of the Loop

Photograph by Twenty20

Most menstruating people have their own distinct monthly cycle. While some are able to pinpoint the exact moment their period will arrive, others have no way in hell of knowing when "that time of the month" will occur.

Unless you are one of those lucky women who can predict the future and plan accordingly, tracking monthly cycles has always been an irregular pain in the vagina. That is, until developers began designing apps that can turn any phone into GPS tracking for Mother Nature’s gift.

With the touch of a few buttons, women can now track and analyze their periods with confidence, and Fitbit—a wireless-enabled, wearable, activity-tracking device—recently introduced "female health tracking" to its repertoire, unfortunately proving that companies need to consider all kinds of women before they launch a product.

“This is what happens when you don't hire women,” tweeted @Stephanenny, after learning that Fitbit had set limitations to the length of her cycle.

When she tried manipulating the system by extending her cycle, she got a second message stating that "periods should be between one and 10 days."

That’s when things turned ugly.

“Should? SHOULD?!” she questioned in all caps, sharing another screenshot. “Look, love, don't talk to me about ‘should.’ I've got four years' worth of adolescent periods for you and your fucking ‘should.’”

Her frustration quickly led to other comments from followers struggling to understand Fitbit’s logic.

“This is ridiculous!” wrote one woman. “Can you get around it by stopping on the 10th day and then starting a 'new' period on day 11?”

Another wrote, "Totally feel you here. So supposedly I’m ovulating whilst I’m on my period ... as you can see it’s prediction of ovulation/periods is WAYYYYYY off! @fitbit please sort this!"

And yet another witty comeback from a woman in northwest England: “I love that you can click on 'learn more'. No Fitbit. YOU learn more."

Though the company does offer a suggestion board, where upset customers can voice their frustrations, one user—allegedly a former employee—claims that women were behind the design of Fitbit’s new tracking feature all along.

“[For what it's worth] this feature was led by women (product manager, head of product, engineering manager). I am not defending the design [and] I understand that it fails to meet your expectations,” he wrote. “Fitbit isn't that big and the people there care a lot about helping people.”

Fitbit's latest component could use a woman's touch, writes Engadget. Aside from manually having to set your period start and end date, women using the new feature are only given five "conditions" (cramps, acne, headache, tender breasts or sick) to choose from when plugging in criteria, which is a far cry from reality.

When you weigh the many elements that affect a woman's body—age, diet, stress, lack of sleep, etc.—against the barrage of surprises Aunt Flo brings with her (i.e., cramps, bloating, exhaustion, nausea, mood swings and muscle aches, to name a few), it’s hard to imagine anyone designing a system that works. Regardless, if you’re dead set on keeping track of "lady business," do yourself a favor and make sure there are a variety of options for a variety of women.

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