The Best Women’s Health Apps: Fitbit, Apple Health, and MoreSeptember 2, 2018
In an ideal world, we’d all have as good a year as Natural Cycles is having. Last year, the company’s eponymous app became the first certified form of “digital contraception” in Europe. A few weeks ago, the Food and Drug Administration also gave it the green light to market itself as contraception in the United States.
Natural Cycles pairs an algorithm with basal body temperature—your body’s lowest resting body temperature—to predict your fertility on any given day. If you’re trying to conceive, it gives you the go-ahead; if you’re preventing pregnancy, it gives you a big, fat warning sign. While it markets itself as a high-tech consumer health product, this “digital contraception” actually follows the oldest method in the books. It’s the rhythm method, updated for the smartphone generation.
Not everyone is convinced that we should rely on apps to monitor our fertility. (Efficacy and privacy are a few reasons to be wary.) But there are plenty of good reasons to use cycle-tracking apps—whether you’re trying to conceive or not. If you’re a woman with reproductive capacities, your menstrual cycle is one of the baseline indicators of general health. An irregular or missing period could mean that something is wrong. Or maybe you just want to plan your vacation for when you’re not going to be bloated, miserable, and disinclined to get into a bathing suit. Here are some of our favorite women’s-health apps to try.
Apple Reproductive Health
In 2015, Apple announced to much fanfare that it was adding reproductive health features to HealthKit, which already allowed people to track their height and sodium intake, but didn’t let women track their periods. Now, if you have a uterus and an iPhone, you can log data like basal body temperature, cervical mucus quality, or ovulation tests directly into HealthKit. You can also push data into it from another reproductive health app, like Clue.
Apple’s Reproductive Health can be a little difficult to use. You can toggle between day, week, month, and year views, but all the graphs are hard to read, and it doesn’t offer notifications for when to expect your period. It is convenient to see all your health data in one place. You might realize that your mile time dropped because you’re always a little tired this time of the month. But you might be better off entering your data in another app, then pushing it to Reproductive Health.
Clue, available on both iOS and Android, aggregates data into a clean, fun, and easy-to-use interface. Entering data is as simple as tapping the big red button in the circular cycle, which shows both your menstrual cycle and your fertile period. The app also sends you notifications when your period might be coming.
Clue lets you track seemingly limitless factors, from discharge, stool, to the condition of your hair. The app analyzes accumulated data to show your typical cycle length, period length, and other symptoms. You can download this Cycle Report to send to your primary care doctor…