Women's health is so neglected that, in my experience, most people forget it could be different. Medical literature doesn't have a granular definition for what menopause is, or how it differs from person to person, or why. There is no standard definition for pregnancy onset, or way to monitor physiological trajectories across pregnancy and development. We don't know how hormonal contraception affects health, and most drugs are specifically not tested in pregnancy, so side effects can only be discovered once they hit someone who was given no warnings and no protections. We don't even know how regular "normal" 28 day cycles are, though data now show differences by demographic, supporting the clear need for much attention to women's health than has historically been given.
With such a low bar for progress, opportunities abound. The timing is perfect for supporting large, collaborative efforts driven by participants, and enabled by apps and wearables to capture their experience and their physiology for others to learn from.
I made the above image from the life-long menstrual period chart a woman provided to me out of general interest. She said she was always irregular, and kept the dates hoping a pattern would emerge, but that she never saw one. The two orange valleys are child birth, and the decline at the end is menopause. Interestingly, her cycles became regular in menopause, around 28 days long , where for most women the opposite experience is reported. Then there seems to be a log decay.
How many other women show similar patterns? What are they correlated to, and how can knowing more help? I've never met another women with a complete life-long journal of menstrual cycles, but these days, sensors and apps are capturing data like these across millions of people. What will we find in those mountains of new observations?