• 11.05.10

Menstruation Visualization Is the Ultimate Flowchart. Period.

Brigitte Coremans designs a pair of clocks to help women recapture a sense of their own fertility.

Menstruation Visualization Is the Ultimate Flowchart. Period.

The paradox of modern reproductive medicine: On one hand, it has freed women to have lots of hot sex without worrying about making a little miracle. On the other, it has obscured their sense of their own fertility. To which some of us would respond: So freaking what?


Not Brigitte Coremans, though. A student at the Design Academy Eindhoven, Coremans has designed a pair of clocks that visualize the female reproductive cycle, the idea here being to help women reconnect to the natural rhythms of their bodies. (For another take on the “naturalness” of menstruation see William Saletan’s excellent Slate article here.)

One of the clocks (above) creates a visual archive of the menstrual cycle. It works by measuring a woman’s body temperature, which fluctuates with her hormones over the course of a month. The data is then printed out on what looks like a high-design lie detector. Coremans explains:

“A women measures every morning, before standing up, with a special thermometer for 1 minute. This thermometer sends the measurement wirelessly (like a telephone) to the clock, which will automatically register the measurement on the calendar.”

Coremans says women who’re trying to conceive can use the clock as a fertility chart, and women who aren’t can use it as a natural contraceptive. (With condoms, too, of course.) As a bonus, it’s a black-and-white memo to men in our lives who still can’t understand why some of us occasionally cry our eyes out over Folgers commercials. Dammit.


Coremans’s second piece (above and below) is a biological clock done up like an extra-long necklace. It has 500 beads — one for each egg — that you set according to your age and the date of your first period. Then, every 28 days it drops a bead; as you move further along the necklace the beads get darker and darker, representing your ever-diminishing chances of getting pregnant. It’s a stark visualization of the precariousness of women’s fertility. And it’s actually pretty poetic, even for us skeptics.

Both clocks debuted at the design academy’s graduation show last month. See more of Coremans’s work — including a series of super-creepy stacking coffins for stillborns (!) — here.

[Images courtesy of Brigitte Coremans]

About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D.