Period-tracking apps are something you can download and use on your phone. They 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 the most effective as birth control.
Some popular period-tracking apps include Flo, Groove, and Clue. Many mainstream fitness trackers, like FitBit, also feature some period-tracking features.
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)
You can add your own symptoms to the list with some apps, too!
Can I use period-tracking apps for birth control?
It’s not recommended to use period-tracking apps for birth control. While some period-tracking apps do try to guess when a person is ovulating or more likely to get pregnant, they can’t tell you for sure. Tracking someone’s menstrual cycles to help prevent pregnancy is called the rhythm method. While the rhythm method can be helpful in combination with other types of birth control, it’s only 76-88% effective at preventing pregnancy on its own.
What are the advantages of using period-tracking apps?
There are many reasons someone 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 someone has used the app for a few months, it can give a general idea on when their next period might arrive. This can be helpful information for knowing when to carry menstrual products. 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 it lasted. 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.
What are the drawbacks?
One of the main drawbacks of using period-tracking apps is data privacy. Apps that track peoples’ periods record information about their bodies, health, and sex lives. This is how they try to predict things like when someone might be menstruating or not. But not everyone is comfortable with private companies having access to this kind of information! And, some apps have privacy policies that are unclear or out of date. That means it can be hard for someone using them to know if the app is sharing their information with other companies. It can also be hard to know what they might be sharing that information for.
Period tracking apps also can’t do things like diagnose health or fertility issues. This can be difficult for people who might use them because they’re trying to get pregnant, as an app may help highlight a problem it can’t give solutions for. When it comes to diagnosing things like fertility issues, it’s a good idea to talk to a doctor instead!