Clue is a period tracking app, founded by Ida Tin.It helps women understand their cycles and their bodies, and also gathers data that can be used to push women’s science forward.Tin wanted to start the company because she realized how far technology had come since the 1960s, with the internet and smartphones, but the science of women’s bodies had barely progressed at all.She grew up traveling the world on motorcycles with her parents, and what she saw taught her how women needing to control their own bodies was a global need.She told Insider female health is not something to be embarrassed about, and she wants to be part of that cultural shift.Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Ida Tin grew up traveling around the world on motorcycles with her parents, which showed her all kinds of different lives people are living. But one thing that was the same wherever she went was the importance of women having control over their own bodies.”If they have more children than their desire, everything kind of breaks down,” Tin told Insider. “They can’t get into school or be financially independent, and it’s just terrible. It’s terrible when people have more children that they can care for.”Tin is the founder of the period tracking app Clue, which helps women with this “global need” of understanding their cycles and bodies. She formed the idea when she started taking the pill and thought about how far technology and research in other areas had advanced since the 1960s.”You should think that it’s a big part of life to figure out how to not have children or when to have children,” she said. “And yet with this, there’s nothing.”
The plan was to create something that could be the next generation technology for family planning, she said, “that was data based and not chemistry based.”Misinformation and complicationsClue is not yet regulated as a contraceptive, but that is a future aspiration. For now, Tin said the app helps women understand the patterns of their bodies. In simple terms, they can know when their next period is coming, or whether it’s late or early. They can also start recognizing if they have certain symptoms, such as headaches or acne, at certain points in their cycle.”It’s a magical biological system we have, it’s extraordinary complex, and it’s a miracle that it works,” said Tin. “But it also comes with a lot of questions. It also comes with problems and maintenance. It’s hurting women when they don’t know because then they can’t take care of themselves, their own health.”
She said tracking periods can help teach us things we may have missed out on learning when we were younger, such as basic knowledge of how many days women are fertile during their cycle, and what breast tenderness means.
“A lot of people have had this experience of something happens, like their birth control is not working for them, and they have to try to Google things and figure it out,” said Tin. “I think women often have this experience that they have to go and become the expert themselves.”They also have to wade through a jungle of misinformation online when it comes to their sexual health. Some false articles also have agendas, Tin said, which makes the need for trustworthy, scientific information even more vital.Data is powerThe app also gathers data from users to help push female health science forward. Clue conducts its own research, and also makes the data available for free.”There’s a lot of blank areas, and female health has always been underfunded and underserved and under researched,” said Tin. “So that’s a really important part of what we do and we actually spend a fair amount of resources on it.”
Data also helps women and healthcare professionals make sense of things.”When you know your own body you can go and say to your doctor, ‘My cycle used to be 30 days and now suddenly it’s 40 — it’s not right,'” she said. “We hear so many times that when you have the data then the doctors can hear you better.”On a societal level, it’s about treating menstrual cycles as a natural part of life, and not “something to be embarrassed about,” she said.”We can talk about our headaches but we can’t talk about our cramps, why is that?” she said. “It’s a cultural thing. It could be different. So how can we be part of creating that shift in culture?”
Tin coined the term “FemTech” partly to fuel that shift and get people talking about the companies that are dedicated to women’s health and research. She saw technology and products forming, but there was a lot of confusion in the language people were using.
“I thought, what if we had a term that could put them all in one category?” she said. “That felt empowering. But it also felt like it would be easier for investors and media to go find these companies and to talk about them.”For example, it might be easier for a male investor to talk about having a FemTech company in their portfolio rather than explaining they’re working with an app that helps women with their pelvic floor exercises.”As a group you have more strengths and more cultural sort of acceptance,” Tin said.’Giving our bodies a voice’Tin said there’s a long way to go with Clue, both with continuing to develop the app and taking the data and “doing more magic with it.”
“It’s like your body,” she said. “You think you have it figured out and then you get older and it changes. It’s always a learning experience.”But she’s confident in saying the company is a progressive voice for female health in the world, and is hopefully making more space for women’s bodies in everyday conversation and society. Fertility and sexual health does affect the whole population after all, so it would be a waste to ignore what women’s bodies are saying.”Sometimes I think of it almost like a translation from what our body is telling us to what we can hear and comprehend,” Tin said. “So it’s almost giving our bodies a voice even to ourselves, and then from there, we can add that voice into the world.”Read more:
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