True story: Type in "period tracker" to the App store on your iPhone, and you will get 361 results.YIKES! How do you know which ones are good? How do you know which one you'll like? Well, I picked 8 of the most popular and highest recommended FREE period tracker apps out there and tracked my period, PMS symptoms, and ovulation on all of these apps. Yes, that is a screenshot of my phone. I DON'T MESS AROUND!!!
I am so in touch with my uterus right now that my Patronus is a Fallopian tube. Listen, I believe in just a few things: I believe that Captain Jean-Luc Picard is way too hard on Wesley. I believe that tacos > burgers. And I believe that every menstruator has the divine right to the period tracker that fits their lifestyle, SO SAY WE ALL! So where should you turn in your quest for crimson permanent assurance? Pick the app that suits your "Aunt Flo" below!
Period Tracker Lite [tl;dr] is the rainbow sherbet of period tracking apps: bright colours, little substance.
Are you there, God? It's me, Period Tracker Lite. I know I'm not the only one who finds the juvenile, cutesy-wutesy interface to be condescending. If you can get beyond the pink-and-turquoise butterflies and flowers, this app will track your period without much effort. Open the app and it's like getting passed a note from your middle school crush, if your middle school crush was your menstrual cycle: "R U BLEEDING CHECK ONE: YES OR NO." You can log symptoms like mood, cramps and cravings, and P-Tracker Lite takes that information and says, "That's nice, dear. Go play with your little friends." If you want to see the results of that data, you have to pay for the “deluxe” version of the app.
If your Aunt Flo still thinks you’re 12 years old and tells you to go play outside while the adults are talking, this is the app for you.
Clue [tl;dr] the IKEA of period tracking: minimalist, streamlined and customizable.
Have you ever been called a “chronic oversharer”? Highly customizable to keep track of what matters to you: sleep, mood, skin quality, sexual intercourse, birth control, cravings, hangovers, cramps, and of course duh, bleeding. Every time you open the app, you can add or change information, which means there is constant interaction. The more you use it (it takes 1-2 cycles for Clue to catch on), the more useful it becomes. Synthesizing data into charts and calendars is what Clue does best! It’s also nice to have a place to turn to when you just need to vent: “I’m so bloated, I feel like a Macy’s day parade balloon primed to go on a rampage if I don’t get some chocolate right now!" There’s a lot of data, but the user interface is simple and clean.
If your Aunt Flo lives in a spotless TriBeCa loft, has a Nobel Prize, and is a great listener, this is the app for you.
Life [tl;dr] the mini bar of period apps: all bells and whistles cost extra.
The best things in Life are free...but the other features requires an in-app purchase. The front screen is customizable, and the default is lovely: orchids on a black background, like a floral arrangement in an upscale lobby. There's a very basic calendar to approximate your next period and your ovulation, and you can set reminders for your phone. Sounds pretty nice! However, many features that are offered for free in other apps will cost you extra here: such is Life! If you just want a visually pleasing, streamlined app to remind you when you can expect your period, this is nice to look at. If you want more interaction without shelling out extra iTunes dollars for it, there are better apps out there.
If your Aunt Flo belongs to a country club so fancy that you have to buy a new dress at Zara just to have lunch with her, this is the app for you.
Glow [tl;dr] the judgey judgerson of period apps. Did not like.
When you set up Glow, you get to state your intent. You can use Glow to track your period, try to conceive, or keep track of fertility treatments. So you enter in some basic info about your last cycle, typical cycle length, and BMI — which I had to guess at, and it made me feel gross. That should have been the first sign that I would hate this app. Despite the fact that I selected "I just want to track my period," Glow repeatedly asked me to take an ovulation test and a pregnancy test. As you can see above, Glow lectures you if you admit to having a drink — heh heh, remember when the CDC advised that all women of childbearing age should give up alcohol?
Heaven forbid you admit to Glow that you're feeling "moody," "stressed," and that you had a couple drinks — Glow bombarded me with so many lectures, I thought I was going to get grounded and sent to my room to think about the consequences! Bottom line is, this app asks you if you're trying to get pregnant, ignores your answer, and treats you as if you're already pregnant. Maybe if you're secretly trying to get pregnant, you appreciate these features of the app, but for basic period tracking, I found them grating and unhelpful.
If your Aunt Flo keeps nudging you at your cousins’ baby showers and asking, “When is it your turn?” then this is the app for you.
Flo [tl;dr] the period tracker for people who really don’t want to talk about their periods.
From the enigmatic lavender feather which is the icon for this app, to the fact that it shows up as "Tracker" on your iPhone, to the minimal options for symptom logging, Flo is sends a mixed message about your period. That message is, "Tell me about your vaginal discharge, but, like, don't tell me, you know?" Well, not everybody is comfortable talking about cervical mucus and sexual intercourse, right? Flo tracks some pretty basic symptoms, mood, and some neat other things like "travel" and "injury" that most other apps don't! You can customize your background and set up reminders to alert you before your next period is about to start, but the data you put into it is kind of hard to interpret out the other end. The symptom logging is definitely a step up from Period Tracker Lite, so I would recommend it as an alternative to anyone who's sick of looking at those butterflies.
If your Aunt Flo drops her voice to a whisper and scans the room to make sure it's empty before asking you if you're having “lady troubles," this is the app for you.
Eve by Glow [tl;dr] the Cosmo magazine of period apps.
If a teenage girl ever walked up to me and said, "Hey, I just got my period," I would insist that she download this app ASAP. Of all the apps, this is the least fertility-focused and least heteronormative. The interface is friendly and matter-of-fact: There's no beating around the bush about sex, vaginal discharge, or masturbation. Not only does Eve track your period, she comments on it with gifs that help explain what's happening during this part of your cycle. Yes! Gifs! In addition, there are fun and educational extra features like The Bedsider, with quick 'n' dirty sex ed info to help fill in the gaps that most schools aren't required to teach (take, for instance, the article "Can I Still Get Pregnant If...?") and the "Sex Quiz," which alternates between fun ("What's Your Sex Song?") and informative ("How Much Do You Know About Women & Porn?" — less than I thought I did, apparently!). There's also a message board in the app to chat with other users about things like relationships, abortion, birth control and sex-positivity. Is it weird to say I had fun using this app? I loved learning new things, the fun "Cyclescope" gifs, and the focus on hormones rather than on fertility. I learned more in a week of period tracking with Eve than I remember from a full semester of high school health class.
If your Aunt Flo slipped condoms into your purse before junior prom with a wink and mouthed, "just in case," this is the app for you.
Kindara [tl;dr] OMG tmi wtf is BBT.
When I started getting push notifications from Kindara reminding me to log my health stats, I was impressed. But then, Kindara started bugging me to take my tempertaure (as I was flying out the door late), and check the consistency of my cervical mucus (when the G train went above ground at Smith-9th Streets). Careful logging of your Basal Body Temperature (BBT) is crucial to determining the time of ovulation, I learned. I, on the other hand, always know the precise moment of my ovulation because that is when I start crying at Teen Mom 2 and my boobs feel like they're about to rip off my chest and become pirates. Kindara is probably a better choice as a fertility tracking app, but technically, it will log your cycle. If you're kinda too busy to drop everything and take your temperature all day long, Kindara is probably not the app for you. However, if you're in the medical field, you'll probably love Kindara's clinical approach to measuring fluids and charting stats! But, Kindara, don't you want to know about my feelings? My cramps? Nope. Just the facts, ma'am.
If your Aunt Flo is a doctor who asks you intimate personal medical questions at the family dinner table, this app is for you.
Pink Pad [tl;dr] the Zooey Deschanel of period apps: works hard, stays cute.
If you like polka dots, you'll love this app. The "welcome" screen is awesome: gives me what I need to know in a nutshell. The calendar function is easy to read and takes no time to learn. You can customize the "theme" to pink polka dots, blue diamonds, purple chevrons, IT'S CUTE! If you just want something to chart your period, and send you customizable reminders directly to your phone, this is it! Sure, it's a little bit "twee," and you'll probably only use it when you're on your period (or trying to remember when your last period was...?), but it gets the job done.
If your Aunt Flo sends you a birthday card every year, but you haven’t actually seen her in person in months, this is the app for you.
"HOLY CRAP, Meghan!" you say. "That is a lot of data! How do I choose?" Well...
If you just want a push notification when you're next period is about to arrive, Period Tracker Lite, Life (free), Pink Pad, and Flo will do that for you.
If you want to track your ovulation but don't really care so much about the period, Kindara and Glow get all up in that business.
If you want to learn more about sex, periods, birth control, sexuality, and ask questions without judgment, Eve by Glow is your BFF!
If you want to obsess over symptoms, charts, and graphs, Clue gives you the easiest user experience and the most customizable settings to track exactly what you want to know.
GOOD LUCK, MENSTRUATORS! I hope you all find the period tracking app of your dreams!
published April 18, 2016
More from BUSTGhosts, Murders and Mayhem Walking Tours. She is open-minded about everything, but intolerant to gluten. She blogs at meghansara.com, is a regular contributor to Femnasty, and tweets her feelings @MeghanSaraK.