A time of confusion and chaos. This is the definition I was given of perimenopause, and I started laughing. I imagined a flock of baffled ovaries bumping into each other on their way to the Ovary Graveyard. (If I had any kind of artistic talent at all I’d attempt to portray this.)
I knew about hot flashes and night sweats but migraines and UTIs? No clue. It was a nurse practitioner at a pharmacy walk-in clinic who told me I was having perimenopause issues and that I should make an appointment with my ob/gyn.
It took a year of other medical appointments before my symptoms were under control. And it was a year of being asked questions I couldn’t answer. At every appointment I’d be asked the date of my last cycle, was I having hot flashes and how often, what about a myriad of other perimenopause symptoms. I couldn’t remember what I had for breakfast so I certainly didn’t remember all that.
I became determined to break the silence around perimenopause by broaching the subject with my friends and in the process made a few discoveries.
We were all under-informed, medical misdiagnoses were not uncommon, and many women felt isolated as they suffered. Meanwhile, more than 200 period tracking apps were available to younger women while almost nothing was available for women in my age group—and those apps addressed neither our needs or wants.
The mobile app my friends and I wanted—needed—to keep our confused ovaries from stumbling into each other wasn’t available.
Someone should build it. Someone with a tech background. Oh, what the hell. Let’s do it!
Okay, there was a bit more to it than that—months of boring research and data and spreadsheets and things you don’t want to read about here.
I took that research to my friend Mark, whom I’ve known for over 20 years. Mark’s background includes new product development, business management and small business consulting. I explained the idea for the app, which led to co-founding Vorsdatter.
An Idea is Planted In February 2017 we launched the MVP/beta version of mySysters. At one point Mark suggested that women be able to give their partners remote access to their symptom trackers so their partners could add notes as well, such as ‘especially moody today.’
We then put the idea on hold for fear we’d single-handedly increase the divorce rate. As the MVP quickly gained traction, women were very interactive in telling us the significant part it played in their health and wellness story. This shaped today’s version of mySysters.
Along the way, men would often tell us (usually Mark) they wanted to be supportive but they didn’t know how or where to begin.
In February 2018 I was attending a party hosted by my friends Jeff and Florence, who had recently moved back to the area. Most of the other guests knew each other, but I only knew Jeff and Florence.
Then the question came: What do you do?
I told them about the perimenopause app. One of the men asked if it came with a push notification to let a husband know what kind of mood she was in so he’d know what the hell he was walking into when he went home—or if he should go home at all—and we all laughed. (Well, most of us. One wife didn’t.)
The conversation devolved from there, but the push notification idea stuck. I remembered my grandfather puttering in his garage for hours.
Using a gauge as a visual came to mind. The next day I brought the idea to my new business partner, Cheryl. (Mark decided a few weeks earlier to take a corporate job offer.)
Cheryl has a tech and business background. While we were talking her husband requested we add a discussion forum to The Man Gauge. The gauge idea turned into a companion app called myGauge, with a social and discussion forum, as well as a blog area.
A Dynamic Duo mySysters and myGauge are now a team, connecting women and men, spouses, partners, and friends by invitation only. A woman who belongs to mySysters sends an invitation to her partner to download myGauge.
Once he opens an account, he can receive updates from her, and also send myGauge invitations to his friends, who won’t see any info his partner sends him. myGauge friends have the option to send mySysters invites to women as well.
mySysters is free to download in the App Store with a Premium membership available after opening an account.
myGauge is free in the App Store, but requires an invitation from a mySysters or myGauge member to open an account. myGauge members may also purchase Premium memberships for any mySysters members to whom their accounts are linked.