There's a very strong possibility you've started your period at a very inconvenient time — maybe right in the middle of that big presentation at work, or while you're stuck on your commute, or right as your sitting down to a first date (check, check, check). If your time of the month has a habit of sneaking up on you, period tracking apps are making it a heck of a lot easier for menstruating people to predict when their period is on its way, identify trends in their cycle, and to keep track of their overall health.
"There are many benefits to using a period tracking app, like noticing patterns in your sex drive or emotions," Anna Druet, a researcher and the Science and Education Manager at the reproductive health app Clue, tells Bustle. "However, a key benefit is that tracking your period helps you feel in control of your menstrual health, and learn what’s normal for you. It can also help you notice when something changes, and see a doctor when there is something that may need to be addressed."
According to Planned Parenthood, the typical menstrual cycle lasts between 25 to 30 days, and the average person has menstrual bleeding for two to seven days. Though small changes to your menstrual cycle from month to month are totally normal, your period is considered irregular if bleeding last longer than eight days, if you miss a period, or if your period starts earlier or later than expected. Irregular periods can be brought on by something as simple as stress, or could indicate that you have a reproductive health disease like polycystic ovarian syndrome, reported SELF.
Even if you experience irregularities in your period, Druet explains a period tracking app can still be useful in determining if your irregular periods are cause for concern. "Menstrual cycles are dynamic. They can vary for many reasons and in many ways. These variations are usually normal and healthy. You might find that your [menstrual] cycles are temporarily out-of-range, lasting only one or two cycles," she says. "If your cycle becomes (or is always) outside of typical ranges [of variation], the information you gather with a period tracker like Clue may provide you and a healthcare professional with information that could help in the diagnosis and management of a medical condition, like PCOS or a thyroid problem, or identify a change like menopause or pregnancy."
Maybe you've tried period tracking before, but found the interface to benot super inclusive, or felt like you weren't learning that much about your period. We've rounded up eight inclusive, accurate period tracking apps that people swear by, that will give you insight into your menstrual cycle.