Tracking Endo Symptoms With Your Smartwatch
It is hard to remember when I, like so many Americans, got hooked on biometrics.
Every morning now for the past year or so, the first thing I do when I wake up is to look at my smartwatch, a Garmin 245, to see how fully charged my body battery is. It feels like magic that a device can track something like this, calculating the hours slept, the quality of sleep, and stress levels during the day.
Anything above 75 percent body battery level, I find passable. Anything below that tells me that I either need to go back to bed when possible or be sure to go to bed sooner that night.
But sleep isn’t the watch’s main job, and its primary purpose is to help train you for faster runs—a hobby I shelved unintentionally at the start of the pandemic. However, the watch also tracks so much more, including menstrual cycles.
Using a smartwatch to track cycles
Watches like mine are helpful in that they can track menstrual cycles. Other watches and wearables that track menstrual activity include the Oura Ring, the Fitbit Versa 2, the Apple Watch Series 6, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2, and a handful of others.
So how can they help with endo? Mainly, they can tell you if any blood you’re seeing is your actual period or just a surprise that comes along with living with endo.
The bad news is that smartwatches right now don’t have a feature that’s as easy as toggling on the endo option—but that doesn’t mean we can’t still use biometrics to help keep track of this stuff. With the Garmin, there’s an app wherein the main screen alerts you on which day of your period it is, which alone is helpful.
Keeping track of symptoms
More important than that, it has a feature wherein users can add symptoms, such as spotting so that, over time, we can get a bigger picture of what is happening—and whether the endo activity is as random as we sometimes think it is, or if there is a pattern.
What is regrettable mainly is that it can be challenging for anyone living with endo to track the irregularity of our periods. There is no one way to do it, which leaves a lot of guesswork.
I know I am supposed to keep a journal to note diet, exercise, etc, and the impact of those activities on my endo. When I first heard that instruction, I took it to mean I should carry a notebook around and jot down what was going on on paper.
Somehow I never got around to doing that very thoroughly. However, even without journaling, I have found a strong connection between cutting back on meat, especially red meat, and lessening symptoms.
I know that air travel will throw off my cycle, sometimes causing what seems like the second period in a 30-day window. But beyond that, I am still often surprised.
Of course, you don’t need a smartwatch to track any of this. When I used a paper calendar, I started tracking my periods by writing a small ‘p’ on the day the period started.
This was a habit I picked up from a middle school friend whose mother was far more organized than my own. That’s still an effective way to start noticing what’s going on although, of course, it'd help to add in more notes than just the day a period starts (spotting, full-on bleeding, etc. would all be helpful to know).
For me, there’s just something addictive about all the technology. All the numbers and data just feel so official, reminding me of the empirical value of every little action I take.
For now, I’m happy that we can use smartwatches and journal apps to get better about logging what’s going on. In the future, I hope that a smartwatch company acknowledges the community of people living with endo, and starts officially incorporating us and our symptoms into the available data options.
What's in your emergency endo kit?