How to Best Track your Period and Calculate It
There are many reasons why knowing your cycle length can be beneficial. For women trying to conceive, understanding the timing of your cycle is valuable for determining the time you are most likely to get pregnant.
A woman is considered fertile once an egg has been released by her ovaries. The egg can then be joined to a man’s sperm. Because of how long both the egg and the sperm survive inside a woman's fallopian tubes, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecology says you can become pregnant if you have sex anywhere from five days before ovulation until one day after.
Generally, ovulation is said to occur about 14 days before the start of your next menstrual period. But every woman and every cycle are different. Intercourse can help you know when your ovulations are and how to increase your chances of becoming pregnant.
More Success is possible by charting additional measures
Weschler cautions that monitoring only the timing of your menstrual cycle, as some apps do, doesn't give you enough information to accurately predict your future ovulation. Additional markers such as changes in cervical fluid and basal body temp (BBT) are essential for tracking.
In addition to period-tracking apps, a good way to monitor ovulation is with an ovulation predictor kit, which you can buy in the drug store. The hormones are used to determine when your ovulation has occurred.
How Tracking Helps You Avoid Pregnancy
For women trying to avoid pregnancy who have very regular cycles, the fertility awareness method (FAM) is used by some women as a means of birth control . This is where you should avoid having sex in the period of your cycle that's most likely for you to have children.
However, Attaran cautions, this isn't foolproof and "will definitely not work for people who have irregular periods." For these reasons, it is not recommended as a way of preventing pregnancy, she says.
Trackers Are Not a Foolproof Way of Preventing Pregnancy
"As the technology stands now, tracking should never be used as a sole method of birth control," Weschler says, including with her own app, OvaGraph.
This is because so many factors influence ovulation from one month to the next.
In a July 2019 study, Nature Digital Medicine published an online report that found women using trackers often don't experience ovulation at the precise midpoint of their cycles.
A second research study presented at a tech conference in May 2017 revealed that many women wrote negative reviews about the tracking app. They often made inaccurate predictions and cited unhappy feelings. The scientists speculate this may be because the app didn't account for factors that can throw off your cycle, like recently giving birth or approaching menopause.
Global Health: Science and Practice published a March 2016 article calling FAM a modern effective contraceptive. However, experts have pointed out that it has fewer effectiveness rates than other methods such as contraceptive implant or intrauterine devices. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, FAM can result in about 25% of FAM-using couples becoming pregnant.
Because it is difficult to know exactly when you ovulate, to most successfully prevent pregnancy it is best to use an additional type of birth control, even if you are closely monitoring your periods.
Additional reasons Period tracking can be helpful
Weschler suggests that, aside from fertility issues, charting one's menstrual cycle can help you identify any other gynecological problems.
For example, a change in your cycle might suggest that you have fibroids , a vaginal infection, pelvic inflammatory disease, or endometriosis. Rare cases of endometrial disease can occur.
Weschler suggests that your doctor can track what's happening to your body monthly. This will help him diagnose why you don't get pregnant as often as you would like.
You don't have to live with bad periods. You can tell your doctor if you experience painful cramps, long periods or bleeding days. They may recommend lifestyle modifications or medication to improve things.
You can also track your periods to help plan your future. It will help you plan your life and ensure that you don't forget to use sanitary pads or wear your best white pants. This information can help you plan your vacation and host a party when cramps are not a problem.
Here's how to calculate your period accurately
Your best method to track your periods is the one that works best for you. The purpose for which you need the data, as well as your preference regarding app design and function are all factors that influence this decision.
To track your monthly cycles to help you get pregnant is a different process than to evaluate your PMS. It is up to you what design style appeals to you.
There are potential downsides to using period-tracking apps
Privacy activists have expressed concerns over the amount of data that you enter in your period tracker. They also fear the possibility that this data could be misused.
Consumer Reports points out that the period-tracking app collects a lot intimate information, including about your sexual life and whether or not you're trying to have children. This could include details such as your unprotected sex activities, miscarriages, menopause, and other personal data. These can potentially be sold to others for marketing purposes.
Consumer Reports warns that putting your health information online could have severe repercussions. This includes whether or not you are paying for life insurance and whether or not your employer is discriminatory.
Consumer Reports advises that you always opt out of an app sharing your data, which is often hidden in fine print.
Here are the Top Period-Tracker Software and Apps
There are many options to track your period. Everyday Health reviewed a variety of tools and picked our favorite.
What's New in Planned Parenthood ?
Best For Monitoring all forms of birth control and identifying menstrual symptoms
If you miss a birth control pill or don't know when your next Depo-Provera shot is due, this app not only reminds you, it helps you figure out when backup methods are required if you get off course. Since the app is from Planned Parenthood, the comprehensive birth control info is top-notch. It allows you to track the changes in your body, moods and hormones throughout your period. It doesn't assume anything about your gender identity, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
Ideal for trying to conceive, and intimately understanding your body
Available as an app or on your computer, Weschler's program is a comprehensive approach for tracking all your natural signs of fertility: basal body temperature, cervical mucus, cervical position, vaginal sensations, menstrual cycle timing, and more. All of this gives you the best odds of correctly determining your date of ovulation. You also have access to a supportive community and qualified moderators, who will answer all your questions.
Best For Using for birth control or a means of contraception
This digital birth control method was cleared by the Food and Drug Administration as a form of contraception in 2018. The app tracks your body temperature each day, which is used to indicate whether you are likely to have a baby (indicated with red or green). The company claims the app is 93 percent effective as birth control with typical use, but this still leaves 7 out of 100 women with a potentially unwanted pregnancy.
The Best for Predicting Your Period
One of the most popular period trackers, Flo gives you the option to log dozens of symptoms and activities - your sleep , how much water you're drinking, discharge color, and more - to home in on when your period (and ovulation) should come next. You can find most common questions answered by the experts, however, there are millions of anonymous users who can address your concerns.
The Best Way to Balance Hormones.
The app analyzes your symptoms to determine the best way for you to change your lifestyle. The app provides holistic advice on eating whole foods and taking supplements. It also suggests other ways to exercise or do other activities, all of which are tailored for your particular phase. The app was created by a woman who found her own holistic help after years of battling hormone demons.
Learn More About Your Body
More than 30 optional tracking categories (including BBT, cervical fluid, even what's up with your hair ) help you keep tabs on your upcoming period, your birth control method, period symptoms, and more.The popular app also has a wealth of information on your health as you move through the month. This will give you sex education you've never had.