Using technology to monitor my cycle

courtesy of Medhelp.org

courtesy of Medhelp.org

“There’s an app for that” has become so commonplace in the lexicon of our digital culture, it’s a wonder I’ve made it this long without using an app to track every aspect of my life. I am tethered to my digital calendar to get to where I need to be, but it never occurred to me until now to use technology to track my health and wellness.

I never paid much attention to my period it because I haven’t yet thought of my fertility for family planning or felt any more than a mild annoyance toward the special monthly visitor.

I’m always the one shrugging my shoulders when doctors ask me when my last period was.

Then I learned that the symptoms we think of as normal every month – headaches, bloating, mood swings and cravings – are actually a sign of an imbalance in Chinese Medicine. So, I decided to pay a little more attention to my cycle. I tried out four different apps to monitor my monthly cycle – they were all free and available in the App Store on an iPhone. They were all obnoxiously pink and girly, and three of the four feature a flower icon as the badge. Here is a run-down of the best and the worst.

1. My Days – This app prompts you with directions upon opening to mark the days you start and end your period. It allows you to chart your temperature and weight, provides a user chat feature, and several different customization tools. It has the longest list of user preferences compared to the other apps, including a list of frequently asked questions. The black and gray calendar screen isn’t as engaging as the other interfaces, but the history feature is nice, as is the ability to easily export or e-mail information. It’s just not as intuitive to navigate as a few of the other apps.

2. iPeriod Period Tracker – The home screen shows you when your next expected period is and how many days you have remaining. It allows you to track a lot symptoms, moods, fertility, and participate in community forums. It was hard to navigate and there was just too much going on. There are bright pop-up ads that are really distracting and I kept hitting buttons that would take me to the App Store. There is an option for a paid upgrade allowing for email alerts and graphing of weight and symptoms, if you can put up with the commotion.

3. Period Tracker Lite – This app is pretty cutesy – the tree on the home screen actually goes into bloom during your period and the other icons look like they are meant for a toddler’s coloring book. The calendar has good detail showing your fertile, ovulating, and menstruating days and the pay upgrade comes with nice graphs and charts. This app was nice because you can type your own notes rather than just chose from a list of symptoms like the other apps. I did find that there were several other unnecessary features though.

4. My Cycles Period and Ovulation Tracker This app was definitely my favorite. The opening screen asks you if you want a bun in your oven or not. I chose no – and then went on my merry way plugging in the date of my last period to see the calendar populate with my most fertile days, symptoms, and next expected period.  It’s really basic, but allows you to track symptoms each day and out of all the apps, it’s the most intuitive to use. It also has a nice analysis feature and interfaces with Med Help communities, complete with forums and FAQs.

The bottom line – whether you are trying to get pregnant or trying not to, an app is a great way to keep track of your fertility and symptoms of your cycle, allowing you to find balance.

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