“An app can’t tell me how I feel!” : how do perimenopausal women understand themselves and their bodies using digital health apps? : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Science in Psychology (Health Psychology) at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand

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PeriM is predominantly understood as a biological process defined by hormonal changes that begin the transition to menopause. It starts when there are “persistent differences in cycle length of seven or more days between consecutive cycles and continues until 12 months after the last menstrual period”. There is very little research on the lived experiences of periM. Digital health apps that are periM or menopause specific are relatively new and there are not many of them, they have had little to no research on them either. How the use of these apps could inform how perimenopausal women understood themselves and their bodies was the research question for this project. A Posthuman feminist theoretical perspective and a Postfeminsit healthism lens were used to look at the assemblage of woman-periM- society-technology. The research included Zoom platform meetings over 12 weeks with 7 women in the periM transitional stage. Cooperative inquiry was the methodology used as a means to collaboratively explore the entanglements of the assemblage. All participants in the meetings were co-researchers. Using Reflexive thematic analysis allowed an iterative analysis of the data gathered and identified three major themes which were: a) Lack of knowledge; b) Postfeminist & Neoliberal Healthism; and c) Self-knowledge through numbers (quantified self). The findings in this research project indicated that women’s experiences of periM were largely influenced a lack of knowledge of periM and being taken by surprise when it began and not having any support from the medical practitioners they approached. The Postfeminist and Neoliberal healthism discourse was identified as tying them into a good citizen narrative of maintaining health and improving oneself through a transformation narrative (or ‘ageless ageing’). The same discourse was applied to the entanglement of using digital health apps to gain self knowledge through numbers. Overall there was some knowledge gained by using the digital health apps but that was fleeting as they felt the apps were too demanding of their time and ‘life’ got in the way. The most awareness of themselves and their bodies they get is through relational connections with family, friends, work colleagues and with each other during the meetings.