Once upon a time I took birth control. For many, many years. I started on it because I had horrific acne as a teenager and what seemed like never-ending periods at times. I seemed to be one of the lucky ones who never had any adverse side effects while on the pill.
That is, until I went back on after giving birth. I went back on the same pill as before and for the first few months it seemed fine, but then out of nowhere I seemed to have crazy anxiety and, in the words of Austin Powers, I lost my mojo.
So I did what I love to do. Research. (Team Questioner through and through!) I looked into non-hormonal options just because I wanted to be more in tune with my body and what it’s telling me so I could help it. I seriously considered a copper IUD, but then discarded the idea due to their side effects and the faff (messing around) of getting it in and out again.
That left me with Fertility Awareness Method (FAM)/Natural Family Planning (NFP). Now, prior to conception I totally geeked out about the different parts of the menstrual cycle, ovulation, hormones involved in the process, cervical mucus, all that fun stuff. But that was when I was wanting to get knocked up, now I was trying to do the opposite.
So I decided I wanted to go without any hormones and just use condoms and NFP/FAM. In order to help me on my journey, I started looking into all the different period tracker apps out there, since I had been using the same once since 2015.
The apps you see mentioned below are ones that I have personal experience using over a period of several months. I know there are tons more, very popular apps out there, but these are the ones that I have had long-term experience with.
Prior to conceiving, I used the super juvenile but flexible app called My Calendar. It’s great in that it’s customizable and you can add and track all sorts of information such as any medicines you’re taking, whether you’ve had intercourse (and if so, if you orgasmed), symptoms, moods, ovulation test results, weight and basal body temperature. I found it powerful because you could track a wide variety of information and still have it on my phone to this day and use it. It tracks your period and lets you know if you’re in your “fertile window”, so if your chance of pregnancy is low, medium or high. There are also lots of useful charts you can view if you like to nerd out like that.
This is a very popular app and displays data about your cycle in a very non-linear, visual way as a circle. You can also choose to view information about your cycle in the typical calendar setting as well. Now, aside from it being esthetically pleasing, I love all of the information the app provides about your symptoms backed up by research. You really get the sense that the developers know their stuff because they cite studies.
It’s very customizable and you can turn off/on a lot of different things you’d like to see and it’s very quick to record any information you’d like to. Having said that, one thing that does kind of annoy me is the fact that the list of emotions are extremely limited — happy, sensitive, sad or PMS.
Overall, it’s an excellent app for those wanting to get in touch with their body and cycle who have limited time to dedicate to that sort of thing and who appreciate beautiful design.
I used this app for months before I started using NFP/FAM. It is a paid “Functional medicine period tracker and hormone balancing app” that helps you to live “symptom free”. I am someone who rarely pays for apps, but I have found it worth the money. I read Alisa Vitti’s book Woman Code** and I thought it gave a good overview of how to live in harmony with your cycle and the natural changes it and your hormones go through. Once you have entered in your last period, you can start tracking your cycle. It estimates when each part of your cycle is (follicular, ovulation, luteal and menstrual) and gives you food and lifestyle recommendations in order to honor what is going on at that moment in your cycle. It helps you identify your key strengths in each phase and even tells you what food you can eat to help support your hormones.
Like Clue, My Flo is very well designed and pretty to look at. You are able to track certain symptoms, cervical fluid and how you supported your “flo” that day. The app evaluates your cycle based on your symptoms you’ve inputted to give you customized advice. So, for example, I’m currently having short cycles (23-24 days), so the app informs me that I have lower levels of estrogen and there could be a problem with my thyroid. It suggests I get my hormones tested (something I am looking into currently). My major gripe with this app though is if I forget to add in my period and leave it a couple of weeks, I can’t seem to add the correct end day in after the fact, it just assumes I ended on a day of its choosing.
This is the app that I am currently using the most and like the others, it is easy on the eyes and well designed. They provide a free trial and after 30 days you can decide if you want to stick with it and pay or not.
The reason this is my go-to period tracking app at the moment is that it makes NFP/FAM very, very easy and user friendly. You take your basal body temperature first thing in the morning with a thermometer, enter it in, and it does the rest. The app reminds you a few times a month to take an ovulation test which can be bought super cheap on Amazon. That way it gives you very accurate data on when you’re ovulating. It calculates your red days, where you should wrap it up or abstain if you don’t want to get pregnant and green days where you are not fertile and should not get pregnant if you have unprotected sex. Like My Calendar, there are lots of nifty graphs you can look at representing the data you put in.
The geek in me also loves the “achievements” you can unlock as well along the way and for certain people, that can be very motivating. There is also the ability in the app to nudge you to remind you to do breast self-examinations, that “red” days are coming up, and polls to help them with their research.
Overall, you can’t really go wrong with any of these apps. They’re all great in their own right, it just depends on what you want to get out of them. If you’re a questioner like me, try them all out! I still have all of these on my phone and most of them each month, but I have to admit, it does get confusing at times using them concurrently!
**Referral link: Yeah, there’s an achievement for that.