If you're dealing with side effects or other weirdness when you're on your period, then tracking your cycle is often the first step in getting the answers you want. Our guest blogger Mika Doyle digs into period tracking apps: the good, the bad and the unbelievably pink.
My first period tracker was a paper calendar I tore out of a planner and “laminated” with tape. Yeah, it was pretty high tech. I folded it up and kept it in my wallet, so I could easily track my cycles and reference it at doctor appointments. So when period tracker apps finally started coming out, I was ecstatic to have a better tool to track my menstrual health. I’m always looking to improve my period-tracking game, so I decided to check out some of the best period-tracking apps available today.
The Limitations of Period-Tracking Apps
Now, there are some major caveats to this list of period tracker apps. The first is that there really aren’t any period-tracking apps that truly capture the unique needs of menstruators, according to Vox. When I first started tracking my menstrual cycle on that paper calendar, I came up with my own coding system to help me track issues I’d been having with my health — diagonal lines, cross-outs, and circles all represented specific types of bleeding. I have yet to find a period tracker that tracks specific colors of bleeding beyond “spotting” or flow level; iPeriod was the closest app that had features I could customize. That means many period-tracking apps are really just going to help you track things related to menstruation and pregnancy, even if you have no interest in getting pregnant.
Most period-tracking apps are also not gender neutral. According to Vox, the design of these apps is usually a product of the Silicon Valley designers, who are mostly male and look at metrics like interaction and time spent. In other words, most period-tracking apps are being designed like niche games, not medical tools for a specific audience. That’s why you see floating clouds, flowers, and “empowering” language instead of medical terminology, says Vox.
“Popular wisdom about ‘engagement’ meets weird ideas about femininity, and you get a lot of design and product choices that are quite questionable,” Wachter-Boettcher told Vox. “It’s funny because people don’t do this kind of thing if they’re designing a health app about literally anything else.”
While period trackers might be really limited in their functionality and design aesthetics, that doesn’t mean they can’t be useful. Here are some of the top trackers out there today.
The Top Period-Tracking Apps Menstruators Are Talking About
Clue Period Tracker & Calendar
Clue is one of the most gender-neutral period trackers available and is rated the top free period and ovulation tracker app by the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, which is a publication of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. You won’t find any flowers, butterflies, or pink on this app. There’s a free version, or you can get more personalized “forecasts” with the paid version.
Flo Period & Ovulation Tracker
Flo uses artificial intelligence to predict your menstrual cycle and understand your patterns, according to Marie Claire. The app is also a lifestyle tracker, says Marie Claire, allowing you to manage your sleep, water consumption, and exercise routines. And Cosmopolitan says Flo is password protected, so you can keep your information private if you want to. Flo’s tracker is free, but personalized insights and health reports for your doctor require a subscription.
Period Tracker Lite
Period Tracker Lite (or just Period Tracker in the Google Play Store) lets you customize the app with new moods or symptoms, along with a symbol the denotes that new symptom, according to Prevention. If your menstrual cycle is pretty regular, Medical News Today says Period Tracker Lite will use the average of the last three months of data to record your latest period with the push of a button. Period Tracker is free to use, but there is also a paid option.
Eve Period Tracker App
What makes Eve different from other period-tracking apps is that it includes an extensive community of forums, so there’s a major social component to the app, according to Prevention. You can post photos, share tips, answer polls, and comment on each other’s posts, says Prevention. Like most other period-tracking apps, there’s both a free and paid version.
Spot On Period Tracker
Spot On was created by Planned Parenthood and is also completely gender neutral. Unlike a lot of period-tracking apps out there, this app doesn’t make any assumptions about your gender, sexual orientation, or your reproductive goals. It also let’s you track what method of birth control you use. What I really like about this app is that there’s a section in the FAQs that says, “Can I use Spot On if I don’t get a period?” To which they answer, “yes!” because lots of people use birth control to skip their periods or get their periods infrequently. Way to go, Planned Parenthood! This app is absolutely free.
There are just five of the, like, gajillion period-tracking apps available in app stores today. If the one you use didn’t make the list, let me know in the comments if there’s a different one you’d recommend. I’d love to hear what other people are using and why.