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Conference paper

Designing Menstrual Technologies with Adolescents

Starting to menstruate can restrict adolescents’ movements due to physiological changes and societal stigma. We present a participatory soma design project advocating for young adolescents to listen to and care for their newly-menstruating bodies, specifically focusing on participation in sport. We designed Menarche Bits, an open-ended prototyping toolkit consisting of shape-changing actuators and heat pads, and used it in two design workshops with seven participants aged 16-18, as part of collaboration and menstrual advocacy in their sports clubs and high school. The participants designed menstrual technologies that respond to menstrual cramps and depressive, anxious feelings before menstruating. We contribute findings on designing menstrual technologies with adolescents using participatory soma design. We found that a toolkit approach to the design of menstrual technologies can allow for pluralist experiences of menstrual cycles. In addition, we found that participatory design with adolescents benefits from drawing on qualities of embodiment and participants’ own body literacy.

Søndergaard, M.Felice, M., & Balaam, M. 2021. 'Designing Menstrual Technologies with Adolescents'. In Proceedings of the 2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '21). New York, NY, USA Available: https://dl.acm.org/doi/10.1145/3411764.3445471