Most menstruating folks with a smartphone have a period tracker app, but all of the apps currently available for download are based around fertility and average cycles — what about women who deal with chronic diseases and infertility? The soon-to-be-launched app, Phendo, is about to change the game for women with endometriosis. And for a horrifically underresearched disease that affects one in 10 women around the world, it is a victory any time the painful chronic disorder receives new attention.
The main developer behind Phendo is Noémie Elhadad, a Columbia University professor of biomedical informatics who was diagnosed with endometriosis when she was 13 years old. Elhadad is the head of Citizen Endo, the Columbia Medical Center research team studying endometriosis and working on this revolutionary app.
In case you are unfamiliar, endometriosis is a chronic condition in women with uteri, in which their uterine lining grows outside of the uterus — this results in debilitating pain (like, requiring bed rest), extremely abnormal periods and menstrual bleeding, as well as infertility for many women.
Lena Dunham, who has the disorder, recently brought much needed attention to endometriosis — she took to Instragram to share her medical leave from Girls, stemming from an especially painful endometriosis flare-up.
When Elhadad spoke to The Mighty about Phendo’s mission, she pointed out that many endometriosis sufferers must use period trackers to monitor their disease’s symptoms — but they are forced to use apps that don’t take certain symptoms into account or that trigger frustration with their infertility issues.
Phendo’s goal is to, first, help the research team better understand endometriosis through the data inputted by users; it will help them to track symptoms, monitor successful and unsuccessful treatments, and record instances of infertility — letting them detect any trends between symptoms and treatments.
Elhadad said another huge goal of Phendo is to empower women with endometriosis, like herself, by giving them some control over the disease through tracking their own symptoms: “You’re motivated for yourself, but you also want to help as many women who experience something similar to what you’ve been through, to prevent other people from having to go through it again.”
The app is set to be available for download in the fall. Elhadad and the women of Citizen Endo are protecting the people that science too often ignores, and we are so thankful!