There are a lot of reasons for women to track their menstrual cycle. In the last few years a lot of period tracker smart phone apps have been developed. There’s even one in the health app standardly included on the iPhone.
Jade Elliott sat down with certified nurse midwife, Emily Hart Hayes from Intermountain Healthcare, to talk about reasons to track your menstrual cycle and whether the apps are reliable at predicting fertility or helping you get pregnant or avoid pregnancy on this episode of the Baby Your Baby Podcast.
Why it’s a good idea for women to keep track their period
When you see a provider, they often ask for the date your last menstrual period started.
“In healthcare, asking when you last had a period is like taking a fifth vital sign. If you haven’t had a period in a while or they’ve been irregular, it may indicate pregnancy, perimenopause or menopause or be a signal to check for thyroid problems, polycystic ovaries, or other conditions,” says Hayes.
Apps can help you predict your period, but are they accurate?
“Tracking your period and entering that information into an app can be helpful at predicting your periods, especially if you’ve got pretty regular cycles that happen about once a month. If your menstrual cycles are irregular, it can be harder to predict,” says Hayes.
The more data you input, the better the app becomes at predicting your cycle. “An app can tell you your cycle is 30 days instead of the average of 28 days. The app may help you recognize that ovulation is not always on day 14 for example,” she adds.
Knowing when your period is likely to occur is helpful for planning and to help you manage your life activities: for example, if you know when you might have a pre-menstrual headache or irritability or when cramps may be at their worst you can make adjustments.
There are many period apps – check the privacy terms
Some period tracker apps include: Eve, Ovia, Period Calendar, Period Diary, My Calendar, Flo Period, and even the My Health app that comes standard on iPhones allows you to input your menstrual cycle info. Most apps are essentially the same.
Read and understand the privacy terms you’re agreeing too. You may or may not want to input your sexual activity information.
For the contraception podcast mentioned during this podcast, click here.
The Baby Your Baby program provides many resources for all pregnant women and new moms in Utah. There is also expert advice from the Utah Department of Health and Intermountain Healthcare that air each week on KUTV 2News.