These Period Tracker Apps Say They Put Privacy First Heres What We Found
With growing concern about reproductive health privacy, CRs Digital Lab evaluated the protections offered by Drip, Euki, Lady Cycle, Periodical, and more
If you use an app to track your menstrual cycle, you may enjoy the sometimes spot-on predictions about when your next period is coming. But your period-tracking app doesnt just offer insight. It gathers a lot of data about you along the way, toomaybe even more than you know.
Period tracker apps collect deeply personal information that can include how often you have sex, whether you are trying to have a baby, if you get pregnant, and if you experience a miscarriage. When Consumer Reports last evaluated period tracker apps in 2020, our Digital Lab, which tests how well products and services protect consumers privacy, found that the five apps we evaluatedwhich all store users data in the cloudprovided no guarantee that this information would not be shared with third parties, even when users thought they were anonymous.
These heightened privacy concerns are well-founded, according to Justin Brookman, CRs director of consumer privacy and technology policy. There are troves of data sitting around that could subject people to criminal liability, he says. And given the laws in states like Oklahoma and Texas that enable private citizens to sue people who provide abortions or assist others in accessing abortions, this data could expose such people to civil liability as well, he adds.
Should You Be Worried About Using A Period
Katie Siek, professor of informatics at Indiana University, said she has not deleted her period-tracking app. But people should think about it, she said, especially if their goal is to avoid pregnancy.
If I was a young person, and I was trying to avoid pregnancy, I would think about it, she said. I would think about possible implications of everything I do, from my posts on social media to my internet searches to turning off my location services.
Following the U.S. Supreme Courts decision to overturn Roe v. Wade on June 24, experts and researchers have voiced concerns about how period-tracking apps might share data. Siek, along with Indiana University Ph.D. students Zaidat Ibrahim and Alexander Hayes, found that even submitting junk data to these apps will not protect reproductive privacy.
These apps are tempting because it can be hard for people with menstrual cycles to figure out their cycle or fertility windows, Siek said. The decision to keep using a period-tracking app depends on individual benefit, she said.
The 10 Best Period Tracking Apps To Try In 2021
Anyone who has experienced a period knows that the whole affair can be tricky, which is why finding the best period tracker apps is a worthy pursuit. Even if your cycle is regular, it probably comes with a host of fun things like mood changes, acne, nipple soreness, and other exciting and delightful symptoms. If you’re someone who deals with a reproductive issue like endometriosis, fibroids, or polycystic ovary syndrome , understanding your cycle as much as possible has major benefits. And of course, if youre trying to get pregnant or trying to avoid pregnancy at all costs, knowing information like when you ovulate can help you on your journey. In short: if you are a menstruating human, a period app can probably make things a little easier.
Most period tracker apps have standard in-app purchases that might give you expanded analytics, but even using the free features to track your cycle can be incredibly helpful and empowering. The problem is that there are so many apps available, and its hard to know which ones are worth your time. So we asked Alyssa Dweck, M.D., a gynecologist in New York City and author of The Complete A to Z for Your V, to give us some of her picks for best period tracker apps.
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Period Tracker Health Calendar
Period Tracker Health Calendar
With an average rating of over four and a half stars on the App Store, Period Tracker Health Calendar remains a user favorite. The beautifully designed app comes complete with features like syncing your tracker to your calendar, creating bar graphs of your moods and fertility, and offering a forum for women to chat about all things feminine hygiene. To top it off, users find this to be incredibly useful information to share with their doctors. “I have begun to see other patterns at the age of 42,” says App Store reviewer Lil’fyre, “that will help me and my gynecologist down to road.”
How To Use The Calendar Method To Track Your Period
The calendar method is more than just circling a day on your calendar and then circling another 28 days later. To fully understand not only the method but how you can make it work for you, you first need to understand how periods work. It may seem like a lot, but youll need to trust the process.
You can divide a menstrual cycle into two partsthe pre-ovulation stage or follicular phase, and the post-ovulation stage, or luteal phase. These two episodes are separated by ovulation, the main event in every cycle where the ovary releases an egg into the fallopian tube.
In the follicular phase, the egg matures in a follicle within the ovary. Once its ready, estrogen levels signal to the brain that its time for the eggs debut in society, and the noggin responds by releasing luteinizing hormone to trigger ovulation. The egg is now free to try and fulfill its purpose.
The empty follicle that remains in the ovary turns into the progesterone-releasing corpus luteum. This tiny structure is key to understanding your specific menstrual cycle because is one of the only elements in this whole process that mostly remains constant for all menstruating people. If the egg doesnt find a companion to join it in the dance of life, the corpus luteum dies after 12 to 14 days, abruptly cutting the supply of progesterone and triggering the shedding of the uterine lining, also known as your period.
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Period Plus & Period Tracker
To set themselves apart from other cycle calendars, the developers of Period Plus & Period Tracker have not only developed a fully encompassing menstrual calendar but alongside it, a fun game! The game involves a small bunny at the bottom of the screen who catches assorted period products falling from the sky, such as tampons.
If youre looking for classic menstrual calendar settings, this app also features tracking options such as OB-GYN appointment reminders, cramp intensity, and alcohol consumption. Learning to understand your period can be a fun process with Period Plus & Period Tracker!
What Are The Risks
Often, when privacy experts speak about the problems with having all kinds of information about you shared without your knowledge or understanding of whos receiving it, the harms can seem somewhat abstract. After all, it may feel mildly creepy but not directly threatening when, for example, youre targeted with specific ads based on your online activity.
However, that calculation has changed somewhat, in light of increased restrictions on abortion now in place in certain states and the impending criminalization of abortion in those states and others if Roe v. Wade is overturned. If ever there was a concrete example of the harms, boy do we have one, says Leah Fowler, research director at the Health Law & Policy Institute and research assistant professor at the University of Houston Law Center.
Since the advent of Roe v. Wade, weve built an entire surveillance state in which every person is carrying a tracking device in their pocket, says Eva Galperin, director of cybersecurity for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. This potentially gives away a lot of information about people who may become pregnant, people who have become pregnant, and people who are seeking abortion services. Thats a huge amount of data that wasnt available in the 1970s when Roe v. Wade was decided. What that enables individuals and law enforcement to do is to essentially create an entire dragnet of people who are seeking abortion services, Galperin says.
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Best For The Newly Birth
If youve decided to ditch birth controleither because youre looking to get pregnant or you are just sick of being on artificial hormonesit can be a giant pain as your body readjusts to your natural cycle.
With birth control, you know exactly when your period is coming, so you can prepare for it. Once you stop, your body has to readjust, and it takes some time before you get to your new normal. Those who were on continuous birth control, which suppresses your period, may suddenly start to experience all of those symptoms that you may have been missing because you were skipping your period .
That’s where Clue comes in: This app is beloved by gynos and users alike because it trains you to identify the signals your body is giving you that your period is on its way. It tracks pretty much anything and everything that happens during your cycle, from breakouts and migraines to the heaviness of your flow.
It can also help you find patterns in your cycle and predict your next three cycles. Pretty impressive and exceedingly helpful, especially if youre just starting to reacquaint yourself with Aunt Flo. The app is free, although there is a Clue Plus upgrade with additional features.
Should You Delete Your Period
This is a difficult and complex question to answer. For some, period-tracking apps can be incredibly useful tools not only can they empower people by helping them to learn more about their body and how it changes with their cycle, but any recorded irregularities could potentially be a sign of hormonal, thyroid or hematologic issues.
And while the risks associated with the lax privacy of some of these apps have been highlighted in response to the reported plan to overturn Roe v. Wade, the majority of these arent limited to period-tracking apps. Most of the other apps installed on your smartphone also collect data including your location that can identify where you go, who you meet and what you do. Thankfully, on Android and iOS, you have the ability to prevent apps including period trackers from collecting and sharing your data.
However, the complexity arises from the intimacy of the data users are sharing with period-tracking tools.
Having your personal health information disseminated in ways youre unaware of could have serious repercussions, said Dena Mendelsohn, Consumer Reports senior counsel on privacy and technology policy. It could, for instance, affect your ability to obtain life insurance and how much you pay for that coverage, increase the interest rate youre charged on loans, and even leave you vulnerable to workplace discrimination.
Clue, Flo and Ovia all confirmed to TechCrunch that all user data is deleted should a user delete their account.
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How To Track Your Period Safely Post
Here’s a guide to keeping your menstrual cycle information private.
As soon as Roe v. Wade was overturned on Friday, June 24, calls for people to delete their period-tracking apps were all over social media. These apps gather extremely personal data that could pinpoint a missed period. The fear is that in the hands of law enforcement, this data could be used to bolster a criminal case against a person who attempts to get an abortion in a state where it is restricted or banned.
Right now, and I mean this instant, delete every digital trace of any menstrual tracking. Please.
Prof Gina Neff
Delete your period tracking apps today.
Understandably, a lot of people are scared and confused. So heres our guide to what you need to know about period-tracking apps, what the apps makers say about their often murky privacy policies, and what alternative methods you can use to track your menstrual cycle that dont involve handing your data over.
Why use a period tracker?
Stress or dietary changes, among other factors, can make periods irregular and unpredictable. Tracking them can help expose underlying health issues, such as fibroids, which are noncancerous uterine growths. It can also help people spot patterns in mood and energy, which can often be affected by ovulation. People trying to get pregnant often use period trackers to figure out when theyre most fertile.
So why are people panicking?
What do companies that make period-tracking apps have to say about this?
The Best Period Tracker App For Couples: Cycles
People who don’t keep anything in their relationship a secret â whether it be the color of the deuce they just dropped or last night’s sex dream featuring an ex â will want to download the Cycles app. The app allows you to share all the details of your cycle, including your period and ovulation days, with a partner, so they can offer “emotional support when you need it” and be more involved in pregnancy planning â if that’s the goal, according to the company. Regardless, you’ll be able to log your physical symptoms, mood, and sexual activity throughout your cycle and see predicted dates for future periods so you can plan your life accordingly.
Available in the App Store.
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Flo Best For Personalized Data
Flo is another popular period tracker app. It uses advanced AI technology to monitor your menstrual cycle, fertility, or pregnancy. Signing up gives you the option to pick a goal: track your cycle, help you conceive, or track your pregnancy.
Its also a fertility tracker, giving you information about your fertile window and peak ovulation days. Flo also helps you track over 70 symptoms and activities to provide the most accurate AI-based overview of your body patterns and monitor changes across your cycle.
Flo has an ovulation calendar that tells you your most fertile days and gives tailored insights to help you with your personal journey to motherhood.
- Comes with Secret Chat, a digital environment that allows you to discuss with other Flo users a variety of topics anonymously
- Exports your data to the Health app
- Affordable in-app purchase for Flo Ovulation & Health tracker
- Limited features are accessible on the free version
Period Tracker Ovulation Calendar & Fertility App
Like Flo, the Period Tracker, Ovulation Calendar & Fertility App is one of the most highly downloaded period tracking apps on the Play Store with more than 10 million downloads.
In terms of content, it covers all of the necessary basics allowing users to track their flow, sexual activity, lifestyle factors, symptoms, moods, vaginal discharge, and contraception.
For those who like an element of gamification, the app also gives you the option to adopt a pet, and you can unlock new pets by watching short promotional videos. While Im not quite sure what this brings to the app, there is also the option to turn the pets feature off altogether if it annoys you.
GLOW is a very detailed period tracking app and can actually be used as a fertility tracker to prevent pregnancy or to help you get pregnant if thats your goal.
The free version of the app allows you to track various factors, including those related to your period, your sex life, and your health. The more data you put into the app, the more insights it can show you. Insights include pattern detection, ovulation data, and cycle charts, and with GLOW premium, you can view your data in even more depth.
If youre keen to learn more about your periods and sexual health or simply want to connect with others, then you can join millions of GLOW users on the apps Community page where youll find hundreds of articles, discussions, and groups that you can join and message.
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Period Tracker For Women
As for many of the other apps on this list, I wish this app would use more gender-inclusive and gender-neutral terminology, however it remains a useful free menstrual cycle calendar app.
For those looking for a fuss-free period tracking app, then the free version is the one for you. Without an upgrade, there are no frills attached, just simple period tracking and period reminders. To track your symptoms and access the apps full features you will need to upgrade to the pro version.
Choose The Period Tracker App Thats Right For You
Most of the apps on our list offer free versions, allowing users to test out multiple apps to find the one that offers the features and tools theyre looking for. Some apps, like Ovia and Natural Cycles, are great for users trying to get pregnant, while apps like Clue are great for those looking for additional health information and advice.
Read Also: Signs That Your Going To Start Your Period
Why Use A Fertility Tracking App
If youre trying to get pregnant, a fertility tracking app can provide you with the necessary information to determine your most fertile days.
Not only that, but tracking data such as unexpected bleeding or spotting, irregular bleeding, or unusual mucus patterns can help you note what to ask your doctor. Additionally, if youre not trying to get pregnant, a fertility tracking app can help you track when to expect your next period, making life easier and more convenient to plan.
Best Period Tracker App Overall: Flo Period & Ovulation Tracker
With nearly 784,000 reviews and a 4.8-star rating in the App Store, Flo is one of the most beloved period-tracking apps on the market. The app can record your cycle’s start date and length, your flow level, and your PMS symptoms, and you can set up notifications that remind you when your period is expected to begin. Folks who are trying to get pregnant can also utilize the app’s ovulation calculator, which shows you when you’ll be most fertile, and those who are already expecting can use the pregnancy mode to calculate an estimated due date, set a countdown to the big day, and see imagery of the baby’s growth each week.
Available in the App Store and on .
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