If you're a person who gets their period, and you own an iPhone, it's probably time you download the new Planned Parenthood Spot On app. Seriously, it's pretty awesome. The Spot On app is basically a combination tracker for both your menstrual cycle and your birth control. I know, I know; why can't you just continue marking your period with a discrete dot on the top of your planner? Or figuring out when your last cycle was based on your texts your best friend? Well, of course you can continue using those methods, but consider this: We trust smartphones to hold a lot of our information and keep our lives organized. Why not allow the same logic to apply to our health?
In my opinion, one of the coolest things about the Spot On app is that it's for anyone who gets a period or uses birth control. It doesn't make assumptions about your gender identity or your sexual orientation. Beyond that awesome inclusivity, the Spot On app has a number of nifty features that help you remember if you've taken your birth control: For example, if you're on the pill, the app reminds you to log when you've taken it, and if you miss your designated time slot, it will remind you the next day that you missed the previous days' dose. Here's an example of what this looks like on the app:
Pretty awesome, right? The Spot On app is free and available on iTunes right now, with an Android version coming soon.
The best part? Spot On is just one of a whole bunch of ways Planned Parenthood makes reproductive healthcare available to everyone who needs it. Check out these four apps and online tools, too:
This is a really cool (and free!) app that offers you a video visit with a wellness expert to discuss birth control options. You also have the option of ordering an at-home STD testing kit. The only downside to this app is that, as of right now, it's only available for users in Alaska, Washington, Idaho, and Minnesota. Still, I'm all about virtual options for reaching health care professionals, and I think this app is definitely a step in the right direction.
Similar to Planned Parenthood Care, Planned Parenthood Direct gives users the option of ordering an at-home STD test kit through the app, which is then delivered to your home in a discrete package. After you take it, you mail it back, and the tests results are available to you online. The at-home kit tests for the two most common STDs, chlamydia and gonorrhea. While the app is free, the rest of the service costs $120, which includes the testing kit, shipping, and the prescription (if needed). As of right now, this option is only available to users in California.
While this isn't an app, I think Planned Parenthood's video series on consent is really important. In a series of four videos, actors depict how to both communicate and listen when it comes to sexual consent. In my opinion, these videos are important for everyone to watch, regardless of age, but I'd love to see these shown in high schools and college campuses around the country, as I think they bypass the "so awkward!" feeling young people sometimes get when talking about sexual health and consent. I also like that these videos depict diverse couples in terms of sexual identity, ethnicity, age, etc.
This one is also not a traditional app, but if you ever need to talk to someone about your health and wellness concerns, Planned Parenthood offers a free, virtual "chat" option on their website. You know those days when you're day late on your period and you need to talk through it with your friend, but they're busy at work? Or you cannot figure out if a certain bump is a wart or a mole, and you're too embarrassed to see your family doctor and tell them what's up? The Planned Parenthood chat is here to help! While their chat service does not replace actually seeing a health professional and getting a real diagnosis, the chat offers a discrete and free means for talking to an expert.
So, there you have it! I'm a huge advocate for Planned Parenthood; I think their services are so important for health in general, no matter how you identify or what your concerns are. Even if some of the apps or options are not available in your area, I encourage you to check out your local Planned Parenthood and see what resources they have to offer. You never know when you (or a friend or loved one) may need them.
Want more health coverage? Check out Bustle's new podcast, Honestly Though, which tackles all the questions you're afraid to ask.
Images: Andrew Zaeh for Bustle; iTunes App Store (3); Giphy