Period-tracking apps are something you download onto your cell phone. They can help you tell when you might be about to get your period, and where you’re at in your menstrual cycle. This can be a useful way to keep a record of your cycles, but it’s not always the most effective as birth control.
What do period-tracking apps do?
Period-tracking apps let you record when your period starts and stops from month to month. Some apps even have symptom trackers. Some common period symptoms they track are:
- pimple break-outs
- food cravings
- PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome)
Some apps even let you add your own symptoms to the list.
Why do people use period-tracking apps?
There are many reasons a person might want to use a period-tracking app. One main reason is it can help predict when a person will have their next period. After a person has used the app for a few months, it can give a general idea on when someone’s next period might arrive. This can be helpful information for knowing when to carry menstrual products around. It can also help people who want to schedule activities around their period.
Period apps can also be useful if someone is having difficulties with irregular, painful, or heavy periods. Sometimes, doctors and other healthcare professionals like to know when a person’s last period was or how long a person has bled for. A period app helps a person keep track of this information.
If someone is on the birth control pill, a period-tracking app can also help give reminders on when to stop and start taking the pill. The same goes for removing and inserting a Nuva Ring.
If someone is trying to get pregnant, they might use a period-tracking app to help them figure out when they’re ovulating. Sometimes, people have a better chance of getting pregnant if they have sex during certain times in their cycle, like when they’re ovulating.
Can period-tracking apps be used for birth control?
Some period-tracking apps do try to guess when a person is ovulating or more likely to get pregnant. This can be useful information to know, but it is only a guess. Using a period-tracking app as birth control is similar to the rhythm method. It can be an effective form of birth control if someone does it right. But it’s very easy to make a mistake, and it doesn’t protect against STIs.
There are other apps called fertility-tracking apps that can be used as a more effective type of birth control. These apps ask for extra information like keeping track of cervical mucus and body temperature. This method is also known as the fertility-awareness method of birth control.
Is period-tracking the right birth control for me?
Sometimes it can be tricky for teens and young adults to use the rhythm method or the fertility-awareness method, especially if they have irregular cycles. It’s common for people to have irregular cycles during puberty (which can last until the age of 25). These methods also don’t keep you from getting or giving STIs!
For these reasons, people who use the rhythm method or the fertility-awareness method sometimes pair them with other forms of birth control. Because these methods are natural, you can practice them at the same time that you take the pill or use condoms. Some people find that knowing what’s happening with their cycles and using other safer sex tools helps them feel more secure. The rhythm method or fertility-awareness aren’t for everyone too, and that’s okay!