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.
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.
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’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 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!
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.
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.
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) and Google Fit (an exercise-tracking app we reviewed), in case you already use one of those apps.
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.
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.
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 that can help you live better. There is also no shortage of health apps for Android users 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 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