We no longer live in an era of marking the start and end of our periods with a big 'P' in our diaries. Today, there is no shortage of period- and health-tech to help you digitally track Mother Nature's gift, as well as your sexual health. But are period tracking apps really worth all the tizzy? Are they empowering? A hindrance? Modibodi investigates below.
Should I track my period?
Generally, increasing your awareness of your menstrual health helps you know your 'normal', which can help you figure out when something isn't quite right and when it might be worth consulting a doctor, according to Dr. Karen Morton, founder of Dr. Morton's medical helpline and consultant gynaecologist. Knowledge is power, so if you are aware of your physical and emotional patterns, you could, theoretically, try to plan out your schedule around your PMS, ovulation, and actual period. Being in-tune with your body means freedom: you'll never be caught off guard by pesky cramps, crankiness, fatigue, or bleeding.
Tracking ovulation around your cycle is especially important for women trying to get pregnant. If you get pregnant, then you can give your doctor your cycle history, and he or she can estimate your due date. However, Dr. Robert Setton of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Weill Cornell Medical College advises that, “Anyone that’s trying to get pregnant should be in consultation with their OBGYN to talk about ways to maximize their chances.” For those of us trying to avoid pregnancy, keep in mind that tracking apps are NOT a form of contraception.
Okay, so say you've decided to use a period tracker and have noticed that your app always alerts you about PMS symptoms a few days before menstruation starts. Lisa Agustines, an OB/GYN at Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles, warns: "I think it’s wrong to say, well, historically the next seven days are when I get more irritable, and therefore I’m going to be more irritable." So while it's good to collect data that you can provide your doctor and can help you learn your unique cycle, keep in mind that you are never merely a bundle of hormones that is PSM-ing, ovulating, or period-ing. We don't "necessarily want (or need) to attribute every passing mood or symptom to our biology," Katie, journalist at The Cut, states.
The Best Period Trackers
If you want to give period tracking apps a crack, consider checking out the following. Whether you simply want a notification that you'll soon be surfing the crimson wave, or rather a full-on report on bodily-function, here are some apps for you:
My Calendar - Period Tracker
My Calendar allows you to track your periods, cycle, ovulation, fertile days, and symptoms. This app also includes programming to track irregular periods (we're talkin' to the 30 percent of women who experience irregular periods!), weight, temperature, moods, and blood flow, as well as sends reminders about birth control. With the ability to hide ovulation, fertility, and intercourse related data, this period tracker also works perfectly for girls and teens, as well as women who aren't sexually active or have a partner who cannot get them pregnant. Check out My Calendar here.
Flo - ovulation calendar, period tracker, and pregnancy app
With AI-based (artificial intelligence) period, fertility, pregnancy, and ovulation predictions, as well as graphs and medical knowledge based on your log of symptoms and dates, Flo is the midwife & tech-wizard of period apps. If you're willing to cash out for Flo Premium, you can even receive personalized insights on your cycle & symptoms, as well as a health report for your doctor. Read more about Flo here.
Clue: Period and Ovulation Tracker
Commonly known as the most aesthetically-pleasing period tracking app, Clue includes easy-to-read fonts and a non-froofy design, perfect for people with periods who don't want to rendezvous with flowers and frills at that time of the month. This app helps you keep track of your monthly cycle, fertility, and symptoms, with options for science-backed insight too. With options to track your mood, skin condition, digestion, energy, etc, Clue also features a "fluid" (discharge) tracker to help you determine when you're most fertile. Clue was rated one of the top free flow trackers by The Obstetrics & Gynecology Journal! See more here.
YONO Period, Fertility, and Ovulation Monitor
Founded by female entrepreneurs, YONO helps you track your cycle, fertility window, as well as lets you input everything from symptoms to sexual activity and stress levels. But the real revolution comes from its fertility intelligence: an "easy to use, comfortable, silicone-encased earpiece", worn at night, that inputs and interprets data to "plot a monthly fertility chart for future fertility prediction". Find out more about YONO here!
Life - Period Tracker Calendar
Life is "the jack-of-all-trades" of period apps. Aptly named, this app helps you keep track of, well, life. It's free-version lets you track your period, predict your ovulation, schedule cycle reminders, and track your symptoms, moods, and more, with options for irregular cycles. If you upgrade to premium, you can monitor your weight, nutrition, fitness, sleep, and medication. You don't have to sign up with your email, there are no ads, and you can even customize your wallpaper to fit your vibe for the day. For more details, read this.
Do you use a tracker for your period? Let us know in the comments!