There are plenty of reasons why you may have a period-tracking app on your phone. First and foremost, having something else keep track of your cycle takes the burden off your memory. It saves you from having to sneak some code word into your calendar. And the notifications give you plenty of time to prepare!
But that’s not all these apps are good for. Your period is one of the most important vital signs for female health, says Apurva Shah, MD, an ob-gyn at Women’s Wellness Associates at Saint Vincent Hospital and the medical advisor at Mira. By keeping tabs on it, tracker apps can flag any potential underlying health problems.
The clue is usually any changes or abnormalities in your cycle—like irregular or heavy bleeding and severe pain, says Rashmi Kudesia, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist and clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Houston Methodist. “If something suddenly changes with your cycle or your period is late, you may not realize it right away if you’re not keeping track,” she says.
And period apps make keeping tabs super easy. “Most people track their periods in a general sense, meaning for people who are either, what we call, regular or irregularly regular,” which means you menstruate every two to three months consistently, , says Jessica Shepherd, MD, a gynecologist and the chief medical officer for Verywell Health. Those individuals experience a period 28 to 32 days from the beginning of their last cycle.
However, these apps may not be suited for people who have “irregularly irregular cycles,” meaning they get their periods sporadically.
Now, with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, many lingering questions are looming in the back of women’s minds, specifically about the security of these period-tracking apps. Spoiler alert: if the one you’re using doesn’t sell your data (and tells you so), you’re probably in the clear.
All of the period-tracking apps below do not sell your data, and they’re safe to use.
Meet the experts: Jessica Shepherd, MD, is a gynecologist and the director of minimally invasive gynecology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is the founder of Her Viewpoint, an online women’s health platform that addresses sensitive topics. She also serves as the chief medical officer for Verywell Health.
Apurva Shah, MD, is an ob-gyn at Women’s Wellness Associates at Saint Vincent Hospital and the medical advisor at Mira.
Rashmi Kudesia, MD, is a reproductive endocrinologist at CCRM Houston who specializes in infertility care. and clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Houston Methodist. She was named a 2019 Best Fertility Specialist in Fort Bend County by Living Magazine, 2019 Top Doctor by Houstonia, and 2021 Castle Connolly Top Doctor.
Clue claims its app can teach you about your body (because let’s be honest, you weren’t paying attention back in sex-ed class). With tracking options related to literally everything that goes on in your body during your cycle, like your period-induced breakouts or PMS headaches, this one is pretty legit. It’s also Dr. Kudesia’s favorite app, and the one she actually uses herself.
“I like its clean, modern interface, the impeccable science behind it, their transparent citation of supporting data, and the multitude of options you have for what you can track,” she explains.
The Clue app is free, but if you are interested in getting even more features, you can sign up for Clue Plus. It offers enhanced period predictions and more detailed analysis about your cycle.
If you don’t use the Flo app already, you probably know someone who does—it’s just that popular.
Literally millions of users log in daily to record ovulation and period symptoms, turning their data into super useful graphs that show exactly what your body is doing and when. (These also come in handy at your doctor appointments, whether you think something’s up with your reproductive cycle or not.)
Bonus: Flo also turns into a pregnancy tracker if and when you ever need it to, so it’s pretty all-in-one.
Flo has both free and paid versions. The basic features are available for free, while Flo Premium is optional. With a monthly fee, you will also receive a daily well-being plan, expert content, premium customer support, unlimited access to Flo Health Assistant, and video courses.
If you’re really hoping to not get your period (a.k.a. you’re looking to get pregnant), the Ovia app might be your best bet. It’s technically a fertility tracker, so it really excels in helping you chart your basal body temperature, cervical position, and cervical mucus. It allows you to chart your period too, and gives you predictions about your menstruation or fertility based on the data you input.
Covered by some health plans and employers, the premium Ovia app provides personalized health support. Not eligible? Don’t worry, you can still access the free version, with the same great trackers and content.
Eve by Glow
The original Glow app is one of the better rated fertility tracking apps out there, but the Eve version focuses primarily on period tracking, in addition to letting you keep tabs on your sex life and gym habits. Dr. Kudesia compliments its clean and attractive interface, which features colorful, eye-catching graphics and icons.
Eve by Glow is free to download and use. If you choose to go premium, you can get extra content, comparative insights, a custom profile, premium support, and private messaging options.
If you’re new to getting your monthly flow (or know someone who is), the thought of tracking your period in an app might be kinda intimidating.
Luckily, the MagicGirl Period Tracker was designed with teens in mind, so it makes learning the digital ins and outs of your cycle pretty easy. The app also helps you learn about hygiene product options, chat with other girls and get period advice, and remember to take your birth control pill (something we could all use some help with).
The bright interface will be instantly attractive to most teens, but it’s a fully functioning period tracker, so there’s no minimum or maximum age required for use. Another perk? It’s free.
For women with irregular menstruation, women starting menopause, or women wondering why they’re experiencing other random cycle symptoms (think excessive bloating, migraines, constipation, or low energy), the MyFlo app promises to do way more than simply track your periods: It takes the symptoms you record and turns them into useful information about your overall health.
My Flo can clue you into possible hormone imbalances and suggests lifestyle changes (like the best foods to eat or activities to engage in) that could make you feel better during different phases of your cycle. The app works great for women with textbook menstruation, too. Plus, you can unlock all features with just $1.99.
Cycles is ultra-customizable but also just looks good. With simple graphics and soothing colors, this is the period-tracking app you want to download if you don’t want anyone to know you’ve downloaded a period-tracking app (so you can semi-discreetly update it in public when you need to).
It also stands out from the crowd for the fact that it gets your partner in on the tracking action: You can invite him to sync up with the app on his device so he knows what’s up with your monthly mood swings and weird cravings, too.
Cycles is free for download, with multiple levels of premium access. The extra functions will allow you to connect with your partners through partner connect, get tailored predictions on upcoming changes to your body, and set up customized reminders for birth control, fertile days or periods.
Before the aforementioned Eve, there was Glow—a tried-and-true period app backed by experts like Sheeva Talebian, MD, a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist at CCRM in New York and a Women’s Health advisory board member, who considers it to be one of the most useful period apps on the market because of all of the data points it collects. Glow allows you to track 40 different health signals including but not limited to sexual activity and body basal temperature, all through its easy daily log.
Not only can it help you avoid or attempt pregnancy, but it can also help those who are undergoing fertility treatments through their online communities and accessible resources, says Alyssa Dweck, MD, an ob-gyn in Westchester County, New York.
This app is free, but just like Eve by glow, you will need to upgrade to unlock access to premium content, comparative insights, a custom profile, premium support, and private messaging options.
Apple Cycle Tracking
These days it seems like you can do just about anything and everything from your wrist. That includes tracking your menstruation, thanks to the Cycle Tracking app for the Apple Watch.
Available through the iPhone Health app that’s already built into your iPhone, Cycle Tracking gives you the ability to log info related to your cycle, including flow level, symptoms like cramps and mood changes, and basal body temp if you’re looking to get pregnant.
“Its unique ability to log data through the Apple Watch, which improves the accuracy of data input,” notes Dr. Shah. Plus, you can opt in for notifications on your watch screen that alert you to when your next predicated period is on its way and when you’re in your fertile window (a big win for those trying to conceive).
While not exactly a period-tracking app, Dr. Shepherd recommends Natural Cycles for the positive reviews she’s heard from her patients. It’s actually a fertility app that doubles as a period tracker. You can also log your PMS symptoms and it sends you notification to tell you your period is coming soon.
The app was created to determine the most fertile point in a woman’s cycle, which obviously relates to the ovulation period as well. And Natural Cycles does not sell users’ private data.
Ōura Period Prediction
If you’re a fan of the Ōura ring, you may be pleased to hear that along with its many other monitoring functions, the ring can also predict your cycles. Because the monitor is worn around your finger, it tracks the ups and downs in your body temperature over the course of your cycle. The only downside: The app requires at least two months’ worth of consistent data recorded to make an accurate prediction.
Ōura does not sell your data and only shares it with trusted service providers when they have your permission to do so: “Whenever we share data with third-party service providers, such as with a research partner, we require that they use your information only for purposes you’ve authorized. We also require these service providers to protect your personal information to at least the same standards that we do.”
How do period-tracking apps work?
So, how do period-tracker apps work? You just have to plug in some basic info like your basal body temperature (BBT), cervical fluid, heart rate, past periods, and sleep patterns, to name a few. (Your basal body temperature is the temperature of your body when it’s fully at rest. Ovulation can raise your body temperature ever so slightly.) The app then makes predictions about your next period and ovulation.
“In an ideal situation, menstrual cycles function like clockwork and this helps guide the user on their understanding of their fertile period,” Dr. Shah says. “This can then be used to either avoid or try to conceive. However, several apps go beyond this to predict various medical problems like PCOS and abnormal uterine bleeding.”
How accurate are period-tracking apps?
It really depends on three factors—the accuracy of the data you enter, the relevance of the info you’re tracking, and the technology itself. “The more compliant the user is with input, the more accurate the predictions. The more objective the variable, the better the results,” Dr. Shah explains. For example, numerical values for hormones or BBT can contribute to a more exact read than a subjective assessment of cervical mucus. Also, a more up-to-date and robust algorithm is more reliable.
How long you’ve been tracking your cycle matters too. If you’ve been doing it for a long time, you’re giving the app more to work with, and it is more likely to be correct with its predictions.
Yes, period-tracker apps can sometimes be wrong, especially if you have an irregular cycle, Dr. Kudesia says. “For example, if your cycle ranges from 28 to 32 days in length, the ovulatory window shifts three to four days each month. Though the app should not miss the entire fertile window, it may be unable to pinpoint the exact day of ovulation,” she explains.
Similarly, if you have a cycle that’s longer than 35 days, there is a strong likelihood that you’re not regularly ovulating, which the app may not flag as a possibility.
Is it safe to use period-tracking apps?
In terms of data privacy and safety, it’s too early to tell how the political climate on abortion may affect these apps, says Dr. Shepherd. But she makes clear that this heated discussion revolves around what type of information a company sells and what type of information the government has access to.
Various social media users have advised people to delete these apps because they’re concerned that the information within the apps could support a case that a woman had an illegal abortion, given missing period data and location settings, MIT Technology Review reported.
A tracking app should not ask much about demographics, Dr. Shepherd says. “Do they collect information like have you had kids before? Have you had an abortion before? Those are factors of information that if it were leaked, then that’s very private.”
However, requests for an email or a name are pretty safe, and if you’re skeptical, you may want to use a fake name. The general consensus on period-tracking apps is, as long as your information is not being sold to a third-party source, you should be safe.
It is the company’s responsibility “to be very open with what they do with their information,” but, “it’s also the responsibility of the consumer now to ask those questions or look for those types of answers when they sign up for an app,” says Dr. Shepherd.