MCALC Knows The Difference Between Gender and Menstruation: Track Your Period Without Pink Flowers

Welcome to the forty-eighth installment of  Queer Your Tech with Fun, Autostraddle’s nerdy new tech column. Not everything we cover will be queer per se, but it will be about customizing this awesome technology you’ve got. Having it our way, expressing our appy selves just like we do with our identities. Here we can talk about anything from app recommendations to choosing a wireless printer to web sites you have to favorite to any other fun shit we can do with technology.

Header by Rory Midhani


It’s the thing a very many of us have been asking for. We’ve all been sending good thoughts to the Startup Gods, begging them to let us keep track of our periods without the color pink or any blossoming flower imagery. We’ve had comment after comment after comment wondering why such a thing doesn’t exist, or if it does exist, why we can’t find it.

It’s finally here. And nary a petal in sight.


For now, MCALC (made by Sexmind) is only an Android app. Alas, I got rid of my Droid long long ago. But! According to their website, they’re launching a campaign to release on iOS very soon. Here are three reasons I CANNOT EFFING WAIT to put this on my phone and tell it all about my flo.

  1. The app is entirely gender neutral and the creative team at Sexmind doesn’t infer anything about your gender while using the app – they plainly state on the website that the team is aware of the difference between gender and having a period. While this isn’t a concern for me, what it results in is a clean, bold design that I much prefer to the usual, this-looks-like-the-inside-of-Barbie’s-vagina scheme. Plus I like supporting a company that supports my community. Plus plus! I like that this company doesn’t assume that even cis women socialized on pastels and Polly Pocket will want more of the same in their adult life.
  2. While I’ll never say never, it is highly unlikely that I will ever want to pop a crotch-monster out of my hoo-ha. The app doesn’t assume you want to get preggers while using it, while that is the sole intention for many other menstrual calculators. I’ve always felt a little weird using other period trackers because I just kind of ignore that whole subset of features. Currently, the app has a setting for wanting to have sex and wanting to be great with child. They’re working on a neutral setting that doesn’t assume either thing – that gets that you just want to know a little more about your body and know when you’re likely to get a magical visit from the red fairy.
  3. This calculator comes with notifications, something that my current period tracking app lacks. Now I use a Diva Cup, so I won’t need to be reminded to buy pads or tampons. But what does happen to me is a major sweet tooth. Like, I’m on my period right now and I do not have chocolate in this house. If I had cake ingredients right now, believe me when I tell you this – I would get in my kitchen and bake a cake, then suck that thing down SO FAST that it would leave a cake-shaped vacuum that would pull in extraneous kitchen material. The vacuum would be so strong that I would probably have to replace the tile backsplash. That’s how fast I would make and eat a cake right now. But of course, I did not have the foresight to buy cake ingredients last week because I wasn’t thinking about it. So now I have to get out of bed, remove the heating pad from my entire midsection where it is wrapped around me, and go buy cake stuff. And I’m just not going to do that. I’m going to sit here and wish upon a devil’s food cake and watch some crappy TV and moan. Bottom line? Notifications would have been helpful in this situation, even if I have to replace “pads” with “cake ingredients” in my brain space.

While I’m not completely sold on the “it’s safer to have sex today” function, since calculation methods are not in fact the best way to get preggers and also that there are more risks than that to sex, I do have to give them props that they don’t say “safe.” They say “safer.” Emphasis on the -er.

The app is still in beta, which means there’s still a ton of bugs to work out. But anyone with an Android device can download it for free and provide feedback to the developers. With a little bit of community participation, this app can probably grow big and strong and be exactly the kind of menstrual calculator we’ve been wishing for. And MCALC team? Hit me up when you need beta testers for the iOS version.

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A.E. Osworth

A.E. Osworth is part-time Faculty at The New School, where they teach undergraduates the art of digital storytelling. Their novel, We Are Watching Eliza Bright, about a game developer dealing with harassment (and narrated collectively by a fictional subreddit), is forthcoming from Grand Central Publishing (April 2021) and is available for pre-order now. They have an eight-year freelancing career and you can find their work on Autostraddle (where they used to be the Geekery Editor), Guernica, Quartz, Electric Lit, Paper Darts, Mashable, and drDoctor, among others.

A.E. has written 542 articles for us.


  1. “pop a crotch-monster out of my hoo-ha”.

    I usually say something along the lines of “shooting babies out of my vag” (this is accompanied by hand/body motions indicating the forceful action of shooting something out of my nether regions) but I like your phrase loads better!

  2. Ooh, this is cool. I need a period tracker because I have diabetes, and my insulin needs go up a couple of days before my period starts. A spiffy notification would help me remember to tweak my insulin pump settings before things go wonky rather than after. I am an Android geek, so I’ll give the beta a try. Thanks, Ali!

  3. Once they have the neutral setting (no sprog for me either), and a tablet version (I have a dumbphone) I’m kind of interested. Ish. Depends how good the prediction calcs are? And if it tosses outliers?

  4. I am interested to see if they change any of the settings. I downloaded it a week or so ago, and it wouldn’t let me do anything more than 150 pounds (which seems ridiculous) or more than 35 day cycles (which I can understand, but mine are 91). So it may work out for some people! But so far, super buggy.

  5. Yes, I would also like the neutral setting. I don’t want any kids right now obvs but I also don’t need to be told when I can have sex or not, because I’m not having the kind of sex that results in babies. BUT THIS COULD BE NEAT.

    • Is that what they’re going for, though…? I assumed when they said ‘safer to have sex today’ they meant ‘farther away from ovulation’ not ‘not currently having a period.’

    • even if you buy into the idea that they’re refering to increased STD transmission risks (which, tbh, I don’t think they are, since as much as this app prides itself on being inclusive, it still assumes sex = piv and the focus is on procreation), associating having unprotected sex when you’re not menstruating with safeness is STILL really misleading ?? I too appreciate that they said “safER” to have sex then, but I think the app doesn’t make it clear how safe or unsafe sex is at differrent times in your cycle and it encourages people to believe they can have safeish unprotected sex as long as they chart their menses (through this app)

    • It seems doubtful that that’s what they mean – I mean, I don’t know about the rest of you but I don’t need an app to tell me when I am currently menstruating.

      • *slow camp*

        I can just imagine that notification. I would probably chuck my phone at the wall yelling ‘I KNOW, MOTHERFUCKER!’

  6. Hmm, I’ve been pretty happy with iPeriod. You can choose your background out of four options. Three are pretty flowery, but one is a stock island beach photo. You can set up notifications and write your own message. You can choose whether or not to track ovulation. Also, you can tell it to not use any cycles longer than __ days in your calculations. In the settings sections it occasionally uses “women” but it is mostly clear of gender terms. The only annoying part is th iPregnant ad at the beginning, but it’s free, so ads happen.

  7. What I could use is a notification for Hell Week – “hey, your moods are going to drop like RIGHT NOW”.

      • I know! I do not pay attention to my periods in the slightest and usually just ask people when was the last time I whined. I get overwhelming rage/despair/irritability right before shark week but it always feels like it couldn’t possibly be PMS. But of course it is shark week and I feel relieved that I haven’t gone off the deep end, but end up swearing for a completely different reason.

        And also I wonder if there’d be a reset button. I was using a period tracker and forgot to finish up my cycle, so from thereon in it thought I bled for 60 days straight and I had to just delete it.

  8. Now I can track my periods by a more scientific method than what I usually use, which is becoming an absolute bitch for 2 days and then expecting my period shortly after.

  9. Huzzah! Except that I switched from my Android back to a dumbphone several months ago. I think I miss the period tracker app I had (in spite of the surfeit of flowers) more than I miss the phone! I’ve tried the “mark with X’s on a calendar” method and it doesn’t work for me.

    So, if I ever get another smartphone I’ll totally go for this. In the meantime, anyone know of a good web or desktop (Mac) alternative? I don’t give a darn about when I’m fertile, I just want to know when I can expect to be crabby as all get-out and then find blood in my underwear a few days later.

    • I’ve been using for a few years, I’m happy there so far. It’s very simple, but if you don’t need much it might work out?

  10. I’ve never used one of those apps before (my girlfriend does) but personally, I wouldn’t any I’d want to try to be full of pink and girly accents. This is such a wonderful idea!

  11. Okay you guys. Serious questions here.

    1. Any brands of pads that aren’t friggin covered in pink?

    2. What do you all do if you feel super masculine and want to pack, but are on your period?

    3. Whyyyyyyy meeeeeeeee? (Just kidding, but only a little).

    • 1. If you are okay with reusable pads, some places have reusable pads that are unfloofy. might be a good place to start, and you’ll save money in the long run using reusable pads. There are some patterns that are flowery and floofy but then there are like, BEARS or TARTAN or HOUNDSTOOTH. BEARS, GUYS. BEARS. I also find that they (not the PIMP pads but the other ones I have, I can’t speak for these cause I don’t have any yet) snap fine around trunks, because I don’t wear girl underwear very much/really ever/unless I haven’t done laundry in 3 weeks.

      2. If you’re comfortable with inserting things, maybe try a Diva cup/Lunette? For some people these don’t leak AT ALL (I have one, it leaks some but less than anything else I’ve tried, so worth it). So then you can do whatever you want around/over that.

      3. I don’t know but also would you like some Aleve because that’s the only thing that helps me.

      • Thanks so much for the cloth pad references, I just ordered a bunch (in like geometric neon, and of course the bears)!
        Gender-neutral funky pad patterns, what the fuck else is up?!

        This experience is now going to be at least 400% cooler now.

      • Many of my reusable liners have a skull and crossbones motif. I thought it was especially appropriate.

    • U by Kotex has black packaging for the box, but they changed their design recently to make the wrappers more flowery, and the actual pads have designs on them, which annoys the heck out of me. Kotex’s Natural Balance line is really simple and there’s not a hint of pink on them anywhere. The packaging is mostly white with earth tones.

      • Yeah, I was going to say, it’s been a while since I used pads but I don’t really remember much pink, mostly yellow, orange and green… I think I used always or bodyform mostly. Maybe it’s different in the UK?

  12. I’m a little annoyed with this app because of the weight thing. A 150 pound limit, c’mon. That’s basic. Fix it!

    • Yeah, the weight issue and the lack of a neutral option (besides sex or pregnancy) are both such obvious issues that I’m surprised they weren’t addressed before any type of release to the public.

      It’s very odd that an app that consciously considers gender identity would ignore other dimensions of diversity like sexual identity and body shape. They appear to assume their users are all thin people all having P in V sex (or if the idea is STD prevention, as some have suggested, they would seem to advocate unprotected sex). Also, as someone who has not had sex recently and has issues around sex, I would find the sexual notifications a little upsetting.

      Still, I really like the idea behind this. I hope they work out the kinks soon!

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