Author Archives: Andrea Ford

Andrea Ford is a cultural and medical anthropologist at the Centre for Biomedicine, Self and Society at the University of Edinburgh School of Medicine. Her research explores childbearing, periods, endometriosis, hormones, and ‘FemTech’, more broadly investigating how ideas about gender, bodies, knowledge, nature, and technology shape the culture surrounding medicine and reproduction. She also practices as a birth doula and is dedicated to working towards reproductive, environmental, and social justice. Her monograph Near Birth: The Doula Phenomenon and American Values, is under review. In 2024 she will begin a 5-year Wellcome Trust project investigating the 'FemTech' ecosystem, including the changing relationship between public and private institutions of knowledge production and care provision, and how concerns about surveillance intersect with promissory ideas about digital health She received her PhD from the University of Chicago, and MA from the University of Ghana, Legon where she was a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar. She has also worked, taught, and studied at Stanford University, UC Berkeley, the FrameWorks Institute, and the UK's National Health Service. Currently, she is a member of the UK Young Academy and is working on bridging academic and non-academic spaces for research, ideas, and cultural change.
An infographic of "menstruapps" with a, illustration of a uterus, ovaries, and vagina in the center.

Period Tracking Apps: Something Old, Something New

They’re sleek and colorful, “fun and easy”, full of icons and dials. Period tracking apps, or “menstruapps,” are an increasingly common way a large segment of the population attends to their health and embodied experience of menstruation. In some ways, these apps are part of very recent trends towards the Quantified Self, the datafication of health, and reliance on biometric tracking devices to “optimize” one’s habits. In other ways, they evoke older legacies of feminist health care, notably the Our Bodies, Ourselves movement begun in 1969. Fifty years later, what does it mean to use technology to “understand how your body works”, as Clue advertises, or “take control of your body,” the tagline for Natural Cycles, which are two of the most popular menstruapps? (read more...)