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Tracking Your Periods When They're Irregular as Hell (Thanks, Endometriosis)

Full disclosure: I haven’t had a period in 10 years since I had a hysterectomy. Back then I tracked my period and symptoms the old-fashioned way, with a calendar and a pen. Obviously, technology has monumentally shifted the ways in which we can do things like track our periods and this has some plusses and minuses. I was curious to see what was out there and to find out which apps were worth investigating if you are trying to track your period. I discovered some fascinating things. First, almost all the period tracking apps in existence are geared toward fertility and pregnancy. There’s nothing wrong with that, however, my focus was on finding apps that were uniquely well suited to tracking the symptoms and irregularity of periods that are common with those who have endometriosis.

It is through this lens that I took a deep dive into the world of period tracking apps. My methodology was meticulous. I downloaded the top 10 apps available and then established accounts on every single one. For the ones that had both paid and free options, I explored both to assess what you could get with the free versions versus the paid versions. For paid apps, I set up free trials so that I could investigate every aspect of the app. After spending hours going through the usability, efficacy, reviews, and cost/benefit analysis of each app, I have narrowed things down to the top five apps that I think offer the best features for someone using them with the intent of managing their endometriosis.

1) Flo Period & Ovulation Tracker

This app scores 4.8 Stars with 826K ratings. Developers are very responsive to both positive and negative feedback which makes it a dynamic and more reliable app. It is used by 230M women and co-created with 100+ leading health and medical experts and acclaimed medical institutions. The app is a partner of the United Nations Population Fund in the area of reproductive health and it was voted Best Fertility App in 2020 by Healthline.

When you log in it immediately asks if you have irregular periods, whether you have a history of reproductive disorders including endometriosis, whether you have trouble sleeping, whether you have any mental health concerns, sexual activity concerns, fitness goals, or skin condition concerns. Daily information logged includes: sex and sex drive, mood, symptoms including common digestive issues with endometriosis, vaginal discharge, other (travel, stress, disease or injury, alcohol), and a section for personalized notes.

Based on your entries, it suggests daily insights with articles that are reviewed by medical professionals, including leaders in the field of sex education like Dr. Emily Nagoski, author of “Come As You Are.” Each insight includes educational information, recommendations for how to address any issues, workout suggestions, dietary advice, and more. While the participation of high-profile educators and medical professionals isn’t in and of itself a guarantee of quality, in this case, it does provide a level of heightened legitimacy that I personally appreciated.

It has a reports section offering various analyses including cycle length, period length and intensity, patterns of your body, and a graph of events. It also has the option to create a report for your doctor, which would be very handy for sharing information relevant to the diagnosis of endometriosis.

My favorite feature is the “Secret Chats” section. You can search by topics, cater your feed based on interests you have selected including “Endometriosis Support,” and follow individual users based on your preferences. It is a multi-faceted platform that includes information on a wide range of topics relevant not just to reproductive health, but mental health and lifestyle as well.

The cost for this app is $7.99 per month or $39.99 per year if you pay in full.

The cost was the most common complaint in the reviews, particularly from long-time users who began using the app when it was free. If I were to pay for an app, however, this would be it. I found it to be extremely user-friendly and thorough and it had a lot of added content that would make the cost worth the investment. I’d give this app an A.

2) Eve by Glow — Period Tracker

This app scores 4.7 stars with 103K ratings. The biggest complaints about the app were that the free version is very limited, it constantly prompts you to upgrade to premium, and some of the sex information was too graphic. There were also several comments suggesting that the app says it is “inclusive” but that it seems geared toward a very cisgender population in language and content.

The app advertises itself as a period tracker and sex app. It offers daily sex quizzes to become a sexpert. This seems to be its unique gimmick. It has a log-in button that says “Get It, Girl” which immediately makes it seem not very gender-inclusive. There are extensive options of data to enter daily including: Did you take your pill? Did you get some? mood, sex drive, symptoms, flow, discharge, anything off down there? exercise, and did you indulge? Each section has a fairly comprehensive list of options, which again makes it not just a good nuanced symptom tracker for reproductive health issues like endometriosis, but actually a comprehensive lifestyle tracker.

It has a daily offering of articles to peruse, many of which have topics that seem like they came out of Cosmopolitan magazine like “Blow Job Moves” and “Hotter Sex.” It also has a very active community that you can customize by topic, group, and followers. This section is pretty cool and I could see it being very useful. Anecdotally the Endometriosis Support group has 33,753 members, so that’s encouraging. It also has a section called “Wishlist” where you can request and send gifts to other members: for example, baby supplies for someone who has recently gotten pregnant after infertility issues due to endometriosis.

One note of caution: If you have a history of sexual violence and are still actively in trauma recovery, some of the content on this app might be triggering. Additionally, it is not suitable for younger users due to the graphic nature of its sexual content.

The basic app is free. Premium membership unlocks comparative insights, premium content, private messaging, custom profile, and premium support. The cost is $29.99 for 3 months, $59.99 per year or $79.99 for lifetime.

Considering what you actually get access to with the free version, this app is pretty comprehensive. It’s a little busy, but I could see using the free version of this app personally; therefore, I’d give it a B+.

3) Period Tracker Period Calendar

This app scores 4.9 stars with 114K ratings. The biggest complaint users had was that there are too many ads. The developer states that the ads are how they keep the app affordable, although the pricing structure is comparable to all of the other apps, so this is a slightly dubious claim.

The app is used by 240 million women. Goal options for the app include: track my period, try to conceive, and track my pregnancy. Features include compatibility with Apple Health and Apple Watch and it allows you to export reports to your doctor.

The extensive symptom list includes head, body, cervix, fluid, abdomen, and mental health categories. It also has a diary feature. The “Self Care” section has “Soundscapes,” menstrual cramp relief ideas, programs like Kegel exercises, workout plans, facial care suggestions, meditations, stretching regimens, and a breast self-exam section. The holistic approach focus of this app makes it unique and appealing to someone who is trying to tackle all aspects of their reproductive health.

It also has a forum where users can post comments and questions and interact with one another, but it isn’t as user-friendly as some of the other apps. Additionally, the app has custom profile options allowing you to select a theme and pet, which is cute for younger users. It’s fairly straightforward to use as far as entering data, but there are some language issues. They actually have a section to suggest errors in translation and recommend changes, so they are aware of the issue.

The cost for this app is $9.99 per month or $49.99 per year if you pay in full.

For the cost and usability, I’d give this app a B-.

4) Clue Period & Cycle Tracker

This app scores 4.8 stars with 319K ratings. It has very easy to access support for issues with the app which is appealing considering that the most common user complaints were that the app crashes frequently, it makes you select period tracking or pregnancy tracking, people have lost their data when the app was updated, and many of the features are only available for premium membership. There is also concern over the developer’s privacy policy.

This app was named the Best Fertility App of 2022 by Healthline and the Top Free Period Tracker App by Obstetrics & Gynecology Journal (ACOG).

The daily symptom tracking has sections for bleeding, pill, sex, skin, emotions, pain, and weight, but the options for each section were limited to four choices, which isn’t nuanced enough to give meaningful information on possible reproductive issues like endometriosis.

The best part of the app is the content section, which has extensive information and articles on a myriad of topics including birth control, fertility, sex, menstruation, issues and conditions (including endometriosis), and LGBTQIA+. It also has an “Ask a Scientist” section which has information on gender & sexuality, the science of sex, understanding fertility, mental health, health disparities, and PMS: fact or fiction.

The app itself isn’t as user-friendly as others and the charts are a little convoluted to read. I almost wish you could access the content section without the rest of the app. Its biggest plus is how inclusive it is, making a point to state that the app is for “anyone who menstruates.”

The cost for this app is $9.99 per month or $39.99 per year if you pay in full. Membership includes science-based articles, monthly emails with cycle statistics, six upcoming cycle predictions, analysis of your cycle patterns, pregnancy, and postpartum tracking. Basic free membership only includes period predictions and symptom tracking.

I’m not sure it would be worth the cost for the paid membership so I give it a C+, but it might be a good option for a very basic free period tracker.

5) My Calendar — Period Tracker

This app scores 4.8 stars with 29K ratings. The most common comments were that it’s easy to use and accurate.

The daily log includes categories for sexual activity, symptoms, moods, birth control, medicine, temperature, and weight with a healthy list of options for each which makes it a good nuanced app for tracking possible symptoms of endometriosis. It also allows you to set reminders for medication, birth control pills, meditation, and cycle. There are customizable themes and reports that can be generated and forwarded to a medical professional, but not a lot of other bells or whistles. It really is a basic period and pregnancy tracking app. It’s fairly easy to use and not very flashy.

The app is free with ads. The cost for this app is $23.99 premium for a year or $69.99 for life.

I wouldn’t pay for this app because the paid version doesn’t come with a lot of extras, but would consider the free version for basic period tracking, so I give it a C.

So what are my biggest takeaways after investigating period tracking apps? That trying to decide on a period tracking app without having any kind of guidance would be a huge crapshoot. There are so many and they are so diverse in their functionality and efficacy that I would be daunted trying to choose one that fits my needs. Hopefully, my research and notes are useful in helping you select one that will enable you to make more educated decisions about your reproductive health and wellness.

A couple of final notes. I want to caution anyone utilizing these apps as a means of tracking ovulation for birth control. None of them can accurately predict that kind of information, so I’d recommend more reliable forms of family planning. Secondly, I happen to be the kind of person who will only use an app if it is extremely intuitive to use and doesn’t bombard me with ads. I lose patience quickly if the data entry process for logging symptoms is too tedious. Others might be more apt to take the time to do so, but I’ve deleted a number of health and wellness apps because I wasn’t willing to spend 15 minutes a day using them. That’s a personal bias of mine that is reflected in my assessment of each of these apps.

Getty photo by People Images.

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