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We live in a time dominated by technology, and we are increasingly tied to it. Our working days, social connections, etc., depend entirely on the internet, and almost everything happens via mobile phone. Created to be a simple tool to call and send messages, the mobile phone has now become an essential part of our daily life: we plan our days, our holidays, we connect with our loved ones when distances separate us, we pay bills, we send emails, we work, we shop online from clothes to home decor.
So why not use an app to control and improve our women’s health, particularly our menstrual cycle?
Monitoring your menstrual cycle is vital, not only to know when it will make its next appearance and schedule the following holidays but also to check your health (yes, the cycle can tell you a lot about your health as a woman!), as well as to predict and alleviate symptoms related to premenstrual disorders, polycystic ovary, irregular cycles, etc.
In this article, I want to tell you about my recent experience with some of the best free period tracker apps. A few months ago, in January 2021, when I decided to write this article, I downloaded the most popular period tracker apps and have been using them for 5 months. So now I can give you an authentic opinion of each of them plus my personal experience. Below, I’ll discuss their features, pros and cons, and which ones are best suited to monitor specific conditions such as PMDD and irregular cycles. Finally, I’ll let you know which app I decided to use as my favourite right now. 😉
Why is it important to track your period?
● Knowing yourself & your cycle
In emergency situations, doctors monitor the four vital parameters: heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure and body temperature. They shall ensure that these parameters remain within the reference values for the patient to remain alive.
Unfortunately, period problems are often considered an unfavourable consequence of being a woman (as if tachycardia was an unpleasant consequence of having a heart!). However, there are more and more positive signs that this mindset is changing… albeit very slowly. Until then, it is crucial that we, as women, take the reins of our health and fully understand that the menstrual cycle is a positive sign of our health.
Our cycle is, in fact, a clear indication of our general health status and any underlying diseases. For example, an irregular cycle (it does not arrive consistently every 25-35 days) may indicate that your body is too stressed or has a nutrient deficiency or other conditions such as PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome). Likewise, missing, painful, heavy periods can be an alarm bell that something might not be right.
Obviously, there is no perfect cycle, and not all cycles are equal. Our cycle reflects our genetic baggage, our lifestyle, our general health condition, and that’s why it’s so important to keep it under control. You know your cycle better than anyone, and only you can check if and how it changes over time. You can listen to your body and catch the signals it sends to you through your menstrual cycle.
If you want to know more about your menstrual cycle, how it works, its phases, how it affects your health, I strongly recommend this book. It has really changed how I see my cycle and how I relate to it. What was a hostile attitude of distress and shame towards my cycle and being a woman has now become an attitude of harmony and awareness. I can now listen to my body and satisfy its needs, especially in those days when it is most vulnerable.
Read also the 6 Tips for surviving a PMDD crisis: tip #4 is to learn about your cycle, how to make it become part of your routine and how this can help you control the symptoms and mood swings related to PMDD.
● Monitoring PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) and PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder) symptoms
Monitoring your cycle is essential to catch any signal your body is trying to send you. Your body communicates with you through different instruments, and your cycle is one of them. Therefore, you need to develop the sensitivity and patience to listen to it and grab its signals.
For example, tracking your own cycle is one of the first things to do when you discover you have PMDD, and in my article, The Beginners Guide to PMDD, I explain why and what tools you can use.
If you’re trying to get pregnant (or not get pregnant!), using an app will help you find out what your fertile days are and when ovulation will happen with enough accuracy. There are some apps, for example, that you can set in ‘Try To Conceive (TTC)‘ or ‘Pregnancy‘ mode to receive personalised and detailed predictions and advice based on your goal.
● Irregular cycles
If you have an irregular cycle, you know how frustrating it is to live in uncertainty. Not knowing when (and if!) it will make its appearance, when you can plan a date night or a weekend out… all these factors can add stress to your already busy life. Not to mention that these cycles could be a symptom of underlying diseases, such as PCOS.
And I know a lot about it: I have been suffering from PCOS since I was sixteen, and for years (maybe decades), I have entirely neglected it. Before my pregnancy, I had never monitored my cycle (except by memory) and never realised why it was so important. Result? Years of missing cycles that I considered to be normal when it clearly wasn’t!
There are some applications that, based on your data (symptoms, periods, moods, etc.), can trace an irregular cycle and make predictions too. These applications highlight particularly long and/or irregular cycles and give you suggestions and information about them. See, in particular, Clue or Flo below.
What are the best FREE period tracker apps?
Clue is one of the most popular and downloaded apps of recent times. Its clean and straightforward interface, without too many frills, makes it versatile for any feminine character and age. So if you’re not a big fan of pink, flowers and butterflies, this is the app for you!
With Clue you can:
- track your cycle and mark your premenstrual symptoms. In addition, based on the symptoms you have noted in the previous cycles, Clue informs you about your most recurring symptoms and gives you more information about them (this last function is for Clue Plus users, though)
- receive predictions and reminders about ovulation, fertile period, basal temperature, next cycle, PMS coming, etc.
- access pregnancy mode to track your child’s progress, monitor your symptoms and receive personalised content week by week
- track if your cycle is irregular
- connect your Facebook or Gmail account (but I can’t tell you what this entails because I didn’t use this feature)
- backup your data.
One thing I really like about this app is its website. It’s rich in engaging content about menstruation, fertility, cycle-related diseases, lifestyle, sex and a section entirely dedicated to birth control. It is available in English, Spanish and Portuguese.
All this is absolutely free! There is also the possibility to upgrade to ‘Clue Plus‘ to access articles written by health experts and more sophisticated functions.
Eventually, I decided not to use this app because it does not fit my need to track my PMDD symptoms. Not all PMDD symptoms are included indeed, and you can’t add them manually.
Perfect for: monitoring irregular cycles / women who do not like pink. 😒
Best feature: symptoms are easily identifiable on the calendar as coloured by category (for example, physical symptoms are blue, vitality orange, the period is red, etc.).
Flo is an app developed to accompany women throughout their entire reproductive life – from early menstruation to maternity and menopause. Flo provides accurate cycle predictions and ovulation monitoring, personalised health insights, expert recommendations, and a private community to share questions and concerns. I like the graphical interface: simple and with a few touches of pastel colour here and there.
With Flo you can:
- set your goal: track cycle/get pregnant/monitor pregnancy
- save your data on basal temperature and ovulation, nutrition, weight, physical activity, sleep and water intake
- activate the step counter and connect it to your Fitbit or other Google Fit device
- add reminders about ovulation, the next cycle, pills and contraception, receive personalised advice.
Flo can also predict irregular cycles with the help of an AI (Artificial Intelligence). To do this, all symptoms, mood, weight and other health parameters must be tracked for at least three months.
Having an irregular cycle myself, I have tried several apps and found that this is the one that best suits my specific needs. For example, by tracking my last 66-day cycle, Flo highlighted the length as abnormal. So, I received a notification explaining why my cycle was considered irregular according to medical guidelines. Finally, I was offered to chat with a virtual assistant to get further insights if I wanted to.
But how much does Flo cost? Hard to believe, but this is completely free!
Flo also has a premium version that unlocks additional content and enables the app to make predictions. However, the free version is quite satisfactory.
Perfect for: monitoring irregular cycles.
Best feature: customisable pill reminder / Fitbit connection.
◈ Me v PMDD
Brett and Sheila Buchert (daughter and mother respectively) are the founders of Me v PMDD, an app entirely dedicated to PMDD: cycle monitoring, symptoms, treatments and available support. Brett started designing this app in 2017, together with his mother Sheila, after years of misdiagnosis, manual cycle monitoring and boring conversions of his data into more sophisticated worksheets and charts.
- self-love journal: you can add daily notes
- symptom monitoring: here, you will find the complete list of PMDD symptoms, which you can trace with a scale from 0 to 10
- you can add all your treatments, past and present, the medications you take, doses, duration, etc.
- you have the history of both your past and the current cycle.
It’s one of the best apps ever to monitor PMDD and its associated symptoms. The list of symptoms is complete, and they are divided into categories: emotional, mental, physical, others.
Perfect for: women with PMDD.
Best feature: save your treatment plan (treatments).
◈ Period Tracker
Period Tracker comes with a colourful, but at the same time, very simple interface. The home screen informs you of when your next cycle is expected, and, on fertile days, the branch on the home page will fill with flowers. 🌺🌺🌺
In my opinion, this is one of the most comprehensive apps I have tried so far. In fact, in addition to the general features, such as marking the start and end of your cycle, moods, symptoms, weight, nutrition, sleep, Period Tracker also allows you to:
- take note of your basal temperature, ovulation days and fertility
- set the Try To Conceive mode if you are trying to get pregnant or Pregnancy mode if you are already pregnant
- make note if you’re taking a pill
- add your own personal symptoms and moods and mark the intensity from one to three
- set your personal goals on exercise, sleep, water intake, calories, etc.
- receive notifications about your next cycle, fertile period and ovulation
- export your notes by email for backup or use them at your next doctor appointment
- connect your Fitbit
- set an access code to protect your data
- share your data with your partner! Simply download the Period Tracker Companion for Men on his mobile and connect it to your account. He will see when your next cycle, your fertile days and ovulation will arrive (notes and symptoms will NOT be shared).
Period Tracker also allows you to upgrade to the Premium version to access more articles, e-books and e-magazines on women’s health; get symptoms and moods charts; receive support and access to the community.
I succumbed to temptation and upgraded to the Premium version. I paid £8.99 for a whole year (75 pounds a month!).
Perfect for: every stage of a woman’s life.
Best feature: data sharing with your partner.
If you love pastel colours, this is the app for you! Its delicate interface makes it, in my opinion, ideal for young women. It has a characteristic calendar, where every day is marked with a different colour depending on the stage of your cycle. So, for example, your NOT fertile days will be blue, those that could be fertile yellow, the fertile days green and finally, cycle days will be pink!
- you can track your cycle and the intensity of your flow, love, mucus, pill, weight, temperature, and save additional notes if you need
- tip of the day: every day, Maya gives you advice that you can also choose to receive as a reminder on your mobile phone
- the list of symptoms and moods is quite exhaustive
- a section dedicated to data charts (cycles, temperature, weight and symptoms)
- various reminders on your next cycle, the pill, receive advice and also add your own personalised reminder
- you can synchronise the app with your personal calendar
- you can change the language
- theme customisation
- you can save an access code to block the app.
Maya also gives you the chance to upgrade to the Premium version for a free ads experience, access more themes, synchronise multiple accounts, and receive support.
Perfect for: teenage girls and younger women.
Best feature: calendar coloured according to cycle phases / set lock code.
The Bottom Line
All these applications are entirely FREE! They also offer you a paid version to access more sophisticated content and features, but, in my opinion, the free versions are more than enough. Remember, in any case, that the main objective is to monitor your cycle, and all the applications listed above do that satisfactorily… all other functions are a plus.
I hope this post has helped you decide which application is best for you. In any case, I suggest you download two or three apps and try them for a few months. In fact, the more symptoms and cycles you save, the more accurate the applications become in making predictions and giving you personalised suggestions.
Eventually, I have decided to use Period Tracker and Flo: I find the first to be the most complete for my general needs; the second is excellent for my irregular cycle.
And you, which app are you going to download? Let me know which one caught your attention the most!
 Fix Your Period, by Nicole Jardim.