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21st-century women, girls, and other people with vaginas are not defined by one style, or by one colour palette. We wear pants, we value education, and we’re slowly gaining freedom around the world. We appreciate resources that can help us make informed decisions about our health privately.

Many of us also get our period (roughly) every month, and keeping track of it ought to be quick and painless (even though menstruating isn’t, am I right?).

At this point, I’d like to say: Yes, we’re talking about periods. Even if you don’t get a period, you’re welcome to stick around — if you’re curious! And for parents, take note: if you have a child who is getting to the age where they will start having their period, these apps could really help them get through that transition.

I tested two menstrual-cycle-tracking apps (available for both Android and iOS devices), and I’ll walk you through each of them so you can decide which one suits your needs. Also, the apps I’m featuring today aren’t pink… unlike a certain women’s outreach labour bus that’s been in the news lately for its colour more than its message.

woman-to-woman-bus

Why You Should Track Your Cycle

It sucks getting caught off guard by your period without your supplies. Keeping track of your menstruation cycle can help you predict when your next cycle will start. While these informative, attractive apps won’t take away your monthly cramps, they will give you a heads up when you should make sure you have packed your feminine hygiene product of choice.

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Tracking your monthly cycle can also help you determine when you will be most fertile, in the event that you are trying to get pregnant (or tell you when you should take extra precaution in the event that you would like to avoid pregnancy).

With that said, let’s look at two different apps for tracking your cycle. While they’re available on Android and iOS, I tested these from an Android device, so some aspects may be different on iOS.

Option #1: Clue

Clue has an attractive data entry page. Simply select the day that you want to enter data about in the calendar, and then choose the type of data you want to enter.

For example, if you have your period, you’ll be able to enter how heavy your flow is. I don’t bother to enter anything in any of the other fields, but they would be helpful for anyone who is trying to conceive.

clue-today-entry-1

Clue’s “Current Cycle” page displays where you are in your cycle, relative to your period, PMS (if you have indicated that you experience PMS under the “Mood” category), and your fertile window.

clue-current-cycle

Clue also includes a period reminder that will push a notification to your device two days before your next cycle is predicted to start. I recommend turning it on — it’s handy to get a heads up!

clue-period-reminder-1

One of the best things about Clue is that it learns from the data you give it to become better at predicting your cycle over time. However, the developers do acknowledge that the app is most accurate for people with regular cycles. They’re working on improving it, though, which is always good to see from a developer.

clue-irregular-cycles

Download Clue Period Tracker: Android or iOS

Option #2: Glow

Glow exists primarily to help you determine times of heightened fertility so that you can maximise your chances of getting pregnant, but you don’t have to be trying to conceive to use it; it’s equally useful for tracking your period.

Glow’s homescreen is attractive, letting you know if anything significant will be happening in the upcoming days. It tasks you with a daily health log to complete, shares a health tip, and includes a notes section.

glow-home-1

Because Glow is based around building community with other people who are primarily trying to successfully conceive (to share experiences and advice), it invites you to create a profile.

You can include a photograph and a bio, as well as fill out your “Health profile”. Your profile page is also where you can add integration with MyFitnessPal (a calorie-counter app we reviewed MyFitnessPal Calorie Counter - The Best Weight Loss App On The iPhone MyFitnessPal Calorie Counter - The Best Weight Loss App On The iPhone Everyone knows that losing weight is difficult. It requires a certain level of commitment that not everyone is prepared for. However, when you meet those weight loss goals, it is one of the most satisfying... Read More ) and Google Fit (an exercise-tracking app we reviewed Google Fit Review: Will This App Make You Healthier? Google Fit Review: Will This App Make You Healthier? Google's entry into the smartphone health craze is here: Google Fit. Let's take a look at what makes it unique and how it stacks up against the competition. Read More ), in case you already use one of those apps.

glow-me-1

Personally I found a personal profile of this nature to be a lot to give an app, but if you’re trying to get pregnant, then contributing your data (such as daily basal body temperature) for graphing and stories for the community could be valuable.

The Community tab is sort of an in-app forum that includes categories like General Sex & Relationships, the Controversy Corner, General Health & Lifestyle, Menstrual Health, and more. You can add your own topics, polls, and photos too. The Alert tab shows you all of the notifications that Glow has sent you, and the Genius tab provides health, conception, and contraception tips based on your goals and data.

glow-community-alert-1

Download Glow Ovulation and Period Tracker: Android or iOS

Which Is Better?

For me, the answer is Clue.

Clue has a simple, core set of features compared to Glow, which seems to want to share a lot of information almost just for the sake of information. There’s nothing wrong with that if you’re in a life stage where you can make use of that information (trying to conceive), but for me, it just gets in the way and makes Glow feel cluttered. Clue also looks calmer with simple icons and flat design, and seeing an overview of your whole cycle instead of just the few days before and after makes a lot of sense to me.

In the event that you’re using a menstrual-cycle-tracking app to try and get pregnant, and you succeed (congratulations!), you should check out our list of 10 websites for expectant parents 10 Baby Websites To Help Expecting Parents 10 Baby Websites To Help Expecting Parents Read More .

The power of your smartphone to help you with health doesn’t end here either — there are lots of health apps for iOS and iPhone 10 Great Health Apps for the iPhone and iPad 10 Great Health Apps for the iPhone and iPad Read More  that can help you live better. There is also no shortage of health apps for Android users 4 Actually Useful Health Apps for Your Android Phone 4 Actually Useful Health Apps for Your Android Phone Read More  either.

Does Colour Matter?

The final thing I want to talk about has to do with colour, and the overall look-and-feel of the apps in this category. I love the approaches to design that Glow and Clue took — they’re fresh and appealing.

If neither option fits your style though, you may find better luck with the period trackers that Joel reported The 4 Best Period Tracker Apps for iOS & Android The 4 Best Period Tracker Apps for iOS & Android Attention all women: your phone can now relieve you of the burden of having to track your menstrual cycle. Read More  on previously. They all sport a more traditional feminine aesthetic — which is fine, if you like that sort of thing.

In any case, I’m curious: Do you find pink apps for women patronizing? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. And don’t forget to tell us what your favorite period-tracking app is!

Image Credit: Labour Bus via BBCnews

  1. Jasmine
    August 27, 2016 at 9:16 pm

    I love Clue!

    This is our first cycle trying to conceive, and I did a little research on recommended apps (while strongly avoiding the excessively pink and fruffy themed ones) before discovering Clue. Now I find myself recommending it to all my period-having friends!

    It looks a little different now than the screen caps you have here (better, I think) --- it lets you select the topics (party, sex, exercise, fluids, mood, etc.) that you want to track. That way, if you're not thinking about pregnancy right now, you can hide prompts for ovulation/pregnancy test results and cravings, or if you don't want to track your hair/skin/digestion you can hide any of that, too.

    On a different note, I love tracking my mood/productivity/motivation/focus/stress using Clue, because they give me a good perspective on trying to be productive and calm and focused... and when I'm having a bad day, I can look at the Analysis tab and see that I've had good days for a long streak, so it's okay if I take today off. :)

    • Jasmine
      August 27, 2016 at 9:26 pm

      **Also: Clue is full of information about each topic it tracks and how it relates to women's health overall. The scientist in me LOVES that they cite each source in-app, so you know exactly where the info is coming from.

  2. Mary Marshal
    June 4, 2016 at 6:43 am

    Great and an informative post, for sure!

  3. Micaela
    November 12, 2015 at 1:19 am

    Thank you so much for this post! You just saved me time trying to decide. Thanks!

  4. Hildegerd
    March 13, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    I use Clue too. Gorgeous and simple app that keeps track and remind me when I am having my period some days before it starts.

    And with these kind of apps; more data you put in them, more informative and useful they are. When it comes to colour... I don't mind pink, but that is more for girls, not women. ;)

    • Jessica C
      March 14, 2015 at 8:10 am

      Hi Hildegerd,

      At what age does one grow out of pink? I find I've grown out of and back into it, it seems to come about in phases. Sometimes I think it just looks nice, sometimes it makes me wonder who spilled the bottle of Pepto-Bismol everywhere.

      Excellent point about the apps becoming more useful over time. Thanks for commenting!

      Jessica

    • James Bruce
      March 14, 2015 at 8:30 am

      I still haven't grown out of pink. Have you seen my bedroom? I was surprised we still managed to sell the house. They got the painter in the day after we moved out ;)

    • Hildegerd
      March 14, 2015 at 10:38 am

      The more information you put into it, more information you get, let me explain: If something weird occurs with ones period, you only need to look into the app and get a sense on when things started. That is why it is important to fill out information in it a couple of times a week, not only when one have period.

  5. Eva
    March 13, 2015 at 7:31 am

    Thanks for this article - I'll check out Clue! I'd been looking for something like this a while back without much success.

    As for the pink: Yes, I dislike it. For one thing because I don't andn ever did like that colour. I find it seriously unattractive and am annoyed by the idea that as a woman I must somehow be hard-wired to absolutely love it. Ironically, when people started to assign colours to genders, girls were light blue and boys red. There's nothing genetically predetermined about this, it's all socialisation.

    So, thanks for finding something for us that isn't in bloody (no pun intended) pink. I consciously don't buy excessively pink items because a) it's ugly, and b) I don't need a pink toolbox telling me that it's OK for me to own a set of hammers and screwdrivers.

    But even more importantly I dislike this because nowadays more than ever many items, particularly toys, are gender-coded, being either "neutral", which often seems to mean "for boys" or pink, which gives girls permission to use them. I was a child in the 80s, and I think this has actually gotten worse. Toys that used to be neutral in my days now come in distinct "neutral/boy" and "girl" varieties, and even certain chocolates or other snacks must now be gender-marked.

    That sort of thing is limiting both to girls and boys. Last week, in a group of children I work with, a little boy said that pink was his favourite colour. How long until he's learned that that's not permitted and will get him "teehee, you're a girl!"?

    And of course if little girls are steered towards toys in pink that are focused on being princesses and glitter and whatever, they will be less likely to seek out non-pink science kits or things involving tools that are often not sold in a pink variety. Keeping the gender binary alive and well. (Note: Nothing wrong with princesses and glitter, but they should not be coded as the only thing available.)

    (I could go on about this for hours, sorry about that.)

    • Jessica C
      March 14, 2015 at 8:07 am

      Hi Eva,

      Socialization has such a big influence on people. To think of all the little boys who aren't allowed to play with dolls, or the little girls who don't get to play with toy trucks. And even the science kits for girls that are all about making make-up. Depressing, isn't it?

      Toys and products of a wide variety are so much more enriching. Science for the sake of science. And I never met a boy who wouldn't like the idea of baking his own personal little cupcakes in an EZ-Bake oven, nevermind the colour-coding!

      Thanks for your comment. Good luck with Clue!

      Jessica

  6. Ellie
    March 13, 2015 at 12:18 am

    I hate the pink merch or apps it's patronising and unimaginative. Love the clue app :)

    • Jessica C
      March 14, 2015 at 8:00 am

      Hi Ellie,

      I don't hate pink off hand, but it definitely can get to be too much at times.

      Your comment reminded me of the BIC "for her" pen. Can you believe they tried to market a 'women's pen'? Talk about patronizing.

      Jessica

    • Ryan Dube
      March 16, 2015 at 4:29 pm

      Or how about underarm deodorant that's "strong enough for a man, but made for a woman." I always wondered what "made for a woman" meant....

  7. dragonmouth
    March 12, 2015 at 11:34 pm

    I definitely do find pink merchandise targeted at women to be patronizing and condescending, if not denigrating. While it may be convenient to color-code infants, once they start toddling it's time to stop. I cringe every time I go into stores like Home Depot and Lowe's and see an entire section of the store dedicated to pink merchandise- tools, tool accessories, work belts and gloves. Sporting goods stores proudly display pink guns, fishing rods and reels, waders, pink camo outfits and other pink-colored items. I have yet to see a female use any of that pink merchandise out in the real world, not while fixing something, not while fishing or hunting. I don't know who is buying the pink merchandise but apparently somebody is otherwise manufacturers would not be producing it. I notice that products target at men come in a rainbow of colors, but not baby blue. I wonder why that is???

    • Jessica C
      March 14, 2015 at 7:58 am

      Hi dragonmouth,

      The onslaught of pink products for no particular reason (even if that particular reason is breast cancer awareness) is weird and I'd like to see a wider array of colours anyway.

      Did you know blue used to be the colour for boys and pink used to be the colour for girls?

      Jessica

  8. Anonymous
    March 12, 2015 at 6:12 pm

    Do people really uses apps for this? Everything you need is to write your last M starting date (maybe last day too) somewhere in the notes...

    • Eva
      March 13, 2015 at 8:29 am

      That's assuming one has a regular cycle. Many people don't, so knowing the last date will not tell one much about when the next will be. Tracking when it is or isn't regular is helpful; for instance, last year I missed a full one due to stress, which showed quite clearly that I was overdoing things.

    • Jessica C
      March 14, 2015 at 7:09 am

      Having an app prompt you is just a little more 'set it and forget it' - which, though not for everyone, has it's attractions.

      Eva, I know what you mean about stress messing up your cycle or causing it to skip. It's very unsettling when your body stops behaving normally, even if it does mean you're period-free one month.

      Take care.

      Jessica C

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