April 10, 2017
The ups and downs of “that” time of the month are all too familiar to many of us. To plan around this ebb and flow of hormones, mobile period-tracking apps can be our closest friends. But as helpful as the popular apps may seem, it’s a good idea to avoid relying on them too much.
There are many different period-tracking apps and each has its own way to make monitoring your cycle more convenient. The apps collect data such as the start and end dates of your period, symptoms, body temperature and even sexual activity. The patterns of information recorded help the apps estimate the days your future periods might begin and end, what symptoms might recur and times of ovulation for cycles to come. By keeping daily tabs on how users feel, it would make sense that users with regular periods would be able to prepare themselves for everything that flows in with the “red tide.”
Some people use the handy system simply to become more familiar with how their bodies work, including when they may be ovulating. We sometimes receive questions from teens on Sex, Etc.’s Tumblr about period trackers and using them to determine when to have sex without becoming pregnant. This is troubling, because period trackers should not be used to dictate these times. The thing is, menstrual cycles aren’t always constant, and can be especially erratic for teens. Secondly, everyone’s body is different, and not everyone ovulates at the same time during a cycle. For these reasons, it may be more difficult for a period tracker to use data to accurately calculate when a person is typically more likely to get pregnant. However, the trust placed in the tracker may lead to risky behavior, like skipping the use of protection because the estimated chance of pregnancy is lower on a given day. Not only is this information not always true because of the inconsistencies in an actual menstrual cycle, but not using contraception (especially condoms) can increase the risk of STDs as well as pregnancy.
All in all, it’s great to have technology like this, especially if you’re tracking general changes in your cycle. But if you’re looking to know exactly when you’re ovulating and using these apps to determine how to act, don’t put all your eggs in one basket by taking your period tracker’s advice.