By Kellie Whitehead
In the ‘80’s - my Mums version of a period tracking app was writing a tiny ‘p’ on the family calendar. The size of the ‘p’ was designed for privacy I’m sure - but not the most stealth disguise for a wily daughter.
Not that a menstrual cycle is something to keep a secret, but luckily for those of us who don’t need to shout about it - modesty is not the only reason to keep these dates to ourselves with the advent of so many period tracking apps in the digital space.
For some of us - we keep apace simply via our usual calendars - just not on the kitchen wall - but modern apps offer more than just date reminders to check back on.
Tracking your menstrual cycle digitally teaches us about the typical frequency and duration of our periods - This alone gives us the right data to detect any fluctuations and unexpected patterns. With a variety of options available to us, these applications can also help usunderstand mood changes and keep us in line with any monthly differences and synch our lifestyles and plans better when we fully understand our own cycles. You can keep notes on details such as consistency, flow and even colour alongside mental health too. If we need to consult with professionals over any reproductive health issues, we have the correct information literally to hand and this can help with any diagnoses or further help required. It goes without saying that the more you track and the longer you track, positively consolidates your own data.
What is period tracking?
At its most simple, your period tracker will remind you or predict when your next period is due. To start with, apps will ask you for a range of information about yourself, your cycle, periods and contraceptive type and use. You can then manually input further day to day symptoms and similar so the app can build the broader picture of your menstrual health.
Period apps track more than just your period
Your menstrual cycle works a 24/7 shift. Yes, there are obviously *those* days, but the 28 day average brings with it a host of shifting emotions and symptoms - fluctuations in energy or libido for example, patterns in headaches and appetite - as we know, the list is endless. When we understand this better, on a personal level unique to your own body, we can work with the data to optimise lifestyles choices to ones that work directly for you, rather than against.
Keeping tabs on fertility
Whether you are trying to conceive or actively avoiding, your tracking will help you understand exactly where you are in your cycle, when you are ovulating and when you are most fertile.
It would be remiss to recommend downloading an app and tracking your cycle without touching on data privacy. Data on period tracking apps is unencrypted. This means that it is seen as a high security risk because it can be intercepted. It’s equally important to note that app providers do not provide guarantee of privacy of customer data from malicious end users or malware. Obviously this is not unique to period tracking apps - if you have concern over any apps that you share personal information with - you might want to consider using them at all. However, many femtech app providers have their own, further privacy policies in place to protect your privacy. I would recommend first reviewing the app’s privacy and security practices before you download anything in the first instance.
The Period tracking app Stardust – combining tracking alongside movements of the moon and planets – is the first recognised app to offer end-to-end encryption for all users, after releasing a statement on TikTok on June 24.
● Eve by Glow: Best Overall
● Ovia: Best for Trying to Get Pregnant
● MyFLO: Best for Irregular Periods
● Period Tracker Period Calendar: Best for First-Timers
● Clue: Best for the Newly Birth-Control Free
● Glow: Best for Data
● Cycles: Best for Couples