Which Period-tracking app is best?

I’ve recently gotten a little obsessive with tracking my cycle. I had my Implanon removed seven months ago and my periods came back shortly after. I didn’t experience a period for the entire five years that I had the Implanon, and I was excited to get back in touch with my body’s natural cycle. I have begun using FAM or Fertility Awareness Method, which is a method of observing your fertility symptoms to determine when you’re fertile in order to achieve or avoid pregnancy. In order to correctly apply FAM principles, you need to pay really close attention to what’s going on in your body, and record your data on a chart. There are literally hundreds of cycle-tracking apps available, and I decided to try three different ones to see which I liked best.

First of all, let’s talk about why you’d want to track your cycle. You might be trying to get pregnant, in which case it’s important to understand where you are in your cycle in order to make sure you’re having sex at the right time to optimize your chances of conceiving. Or you might be using FAM to avoid pregnancy. You might simply want to keep track of how regular your cycles are to allow you to plan your schedule accordingly. It’s also a good idea to keep a record of your periods and other symptoms like cramping, mood and headaches to share with your doctor.

The three apps I tried were Clue, OvuView and OvaGraph. I’ve been using the free version of OvuView and OvaGraph, but I did spring for the premium version of Clue. I’ve been using them for seven months now, and I feel like there’s a very clear front-runner for me. So, let’s get into it.

Clue

Clue is a period tracking app that allows you to record a huge range of variables, including how heavy your menstrual bleeding is, your cervical fluid, exercise, mood, skin, digestion, pain and lots more. Clue uses data from your previous cycles to predict when your next period is due, and when ovulation is likely to occur.

Pros:

  • Gender-neutral. Clue is very inclusive and doesn’t have any gendered language or imagery
  • Easy to use. The Clue interface is super simple and easy to interpret.
  • Customizable. Clue lets you select which variables you want to measure, and you can easily change them at any time. For example, if you’re not interested in tracking your hair and skin, you can easily exclude them.
  • Simple to scroll back through the calendar to track when your last period was.

Cons:

  • The predictions aren’t very accurate. Even though I input my Basal Body Temperature (BBT) and cervical fluid, Clue doesn’t seem to use this data to determine when I’ve ovulated. I usually have a fair idea when I’m ovulating and Clue is usually several days early with their predictions. Clue seems to use your average cycle length to predict when your period is due to begin, and again their predictions are usually several days off.
  • The options for tracking are limited. I don’t like that there’s no way to record the severity of symptoms like headaches or cramps. There’s also no dedicated spot to record cervical position, which is a really important data point if you’re tracking fertility.
  • You can’t see your data on a graph, which makes it hard to see the relationship between different symptoms and fertility signs.
  • Additional features in Clue Plus are very limited. I paid for the premium version in the hope that I’d be able to get more analysis of my data. The Analysis tab is very brief, and really only tells you if you tend to experience certain symptoms in the first or second half of your cycle. Clue Plus does give you access to a premium knowledge base of articles about different health issues, which is good but not worth what you pay for it.

OvuView

OvuView is a combination period/fertility tracker. Like Clue, it offers predictions as to when your period is due and when you’re likely to begin ovulating. OvuView also charts your data on a graph, so that you can see everything at a glance.

Pros:

  • Colourful interface. I really like how bright OvuView is, and that different symptoms are tracked with different colours. Over time, I’ve gotten to know which colours correspond to which symptoms, so it’s easy to find the one I’m looking for.
  • The chart view shows all your data in one spot. It plots your Basal Body Temperature on a line graph so that you can clearly see when there’s a rise (which would indicate ovulation). You can also see at a glance whether there are any patterns in your data (for example, I have learned that my appetite tends to increase when I’m ovulating).
  • It allows you to record the severity of symptoms. With things like cramps or headaches, you can select whether they’re mild, moderate or severe. I really like this, because it allows me to be very precise. For example, I often get a very mild headache that makes me foggy-headed the day before my period. I always debate whether I should enter this in Clue, because that app just records it as a headache. OvuView lets me differentiate between a mild headache and a full-blown migraine.
  • Very specific data entry points. I love that OvuView lets you track your cycle in detail. For example, in addition to asking if menstrual bleeding is light, medium or heavy, you can also input the colour of the flow. It also allows super detailed options for recording cervical fluid (which is vitally important if you’re tracking fertility).
  • You can customize which symptoms you want to track. You can easily exclude symptoms that aren’t of interest to you, and it includes some more unusual things like appetite, irritability, energy levels and insomnia.
  • Accurate predictions. OvuView seems to actually take your data entry points into account when making predictions. It marks your ovulation date on your chart after ovulation has been established. Of all of the apps I’ve used, OvuView seems to be the one that most accurately integrates all of my fertility symptoms to generate a probable date of ovulation.

Cons:

  • The ads are a little intrusive on the free version of the app.

OvaGraph

OvaGraph is a fertility-tracking app that was developed by Dr Toni Wechler, who literally wrote the book on the Fertility Awareness Method. OvaGraph essentially offers a digital version of the paper charts used for tracking your cycle when using FAM. You enter your data each day and the app plots it on a chart. The app also applies FAM rules, marking your coverline and noting a probable date of ovulation.

Pros:

  • Very simple to use. Data is entered using a basic click-box form.
  • Loads of options for recording fertility treatments, supplements and pregnancy symptoms. OvaGraph does seem to be geared more towards people who are trying to get pregnant.
  • Stores all your previous cycles so you can refer back to them.
  • Keeps record of your average cycle length.
  • Charts are very clear and easy to read.
  • The app helps you by applying Fertility Awareness Rules to draw your coverline and show a probable ovulation day. It doesn’t make any predictions about when your period is due and when you’re likely to ovulate. I really like this because you can’t accurately predict when a person is going to ovulate, you can only determine after the fact that ovulation has happened. With any cycle tracking app, you still need to use your knowledge to decipher the data and determine when you’re fertile. I like that Ovagraph doesn’t try to do this for you.
  • The app has a great FAQ section and a gallery of charts from other users, so you can see how certain conditions appear on the charts (eg, you can see charts from people who have gotten pregnant, charts for people with PCOS, cycles with no ovulation and so forth).

Cons:

  • Not a lot of options for customization. OvaGraph only tracks fertility-related symptoms and there’s no option to add things like mood or premenstrual symptoms. You can add this information in the Notes tab, but it doesn’t get included in the data on the chart.
  • The app seems to focus very heavily on Basal Body Temperature for determining when ovulation has occurred. While BBT is a very important clue to indicate when ovulation has happened, there are a number of other factors like cervical fluid and cervical position that should also be considered. When I’m interpreting my chart, I take all three of these factors into account. This app seems to rely most heavily on BBT, and a few times the ovulation date it’s given me is a day or two off what I believe my actual ovulation date was based on all the data.
  • Very heavily geared towards achieving pregnancy. Which is great for some, but not for me.

Conclusion

Overall, I was the most disappointed with Clue, as it’s one of the highest rated period tracker apps. And to be fair, Clue is good as a period tracker alone. It’s helpful for recording when you get your period and any associated symptoms, but isn’t useful for fertility tracking. I would recommend Clue as a tool for teens who are just starting to navigate their cycle.

OvaGraph is a fantastic cycle charting app if you are trying to get pregnant. It is also good for people who are following the Fertility Awareness Method. OvaGraph was very no-frills and didn’t offer options to track a range of other symptoms. This might be the app for you if you are looking for a straightforward digital alternative to paper tracking.

OvuView is probably my favourite of the three apps I tried. It’s very detailed and presents your information in an easy-to-understand graph. It’s extremely useful for fertility tracking, and I like that I’m able to track a wide range of symptoms. At my last doctor’s appointment, my doctor asked about my premenstrual symptoms, and I was able to bring up the graph to show her. This was so useful and my doctor wrote down the name of the app to recommend to other patients! I would recommend OvuView if you want to get a clear overall picture of your cycle, are using the Fertility Awareness Method or if you have other health conditions and want to track a range of symptoms. While all three of these apps had their merits, OvuView was the clear front-runner for me.

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