Period tracker

Period trackers and what they teach us

Knowing where you’re at in your menstrual cycle and when to expect your next period gives you a sense of control over your life.

So wouldn’t it be great if there were an easy and effective way to keep track of your cycle – a period calculator, for example?

Good news: there is.

An online period tracker app allows you to control your periods rather than letting them control you. Being aware of your cycle’s ups and downs makes you feel more clued up and at ease with the changes happening to your body and moods throughout your whole period. And that means you can prepare for them. You’ll never have that ‘when is my period due?’ panic, because you have an ongoing period calendar that means you’re constantly in the know.

Using your tracker regularly enables you to notice patterns in your cycle. That means you can stock up on pads and be prepared at the right time. It also serves as a period calendar that helps you to predict the timing and duration of your periods. That’s immensely useful information. Not only does it help you understand your body and mood changes, but also when to expect them, while alerting you to changes in your cycle that could mean you need a check-up with your doctor.

If you get PMS, a tracker will let you know when to expect the symptoms and to avoid too much stress around that time. If you typically get a heavy flow at the start of your period you’ll know what days of the month to be equipped with plenty of Nana Maxi Towels when you’re out and about.

Another benefit of period trackers is being able to keep track of what’s happening in your body – like charting your basal body temperature (BBT) and cervical mucus (i.e., discharge) to predict accurately when you will ovulate. Useful information if you’re keen to know when you’ll be at your most fertile.

One truly great thing about period trackers is how easy they are to use. You simply log the start and end date of your period each month. Then – ping! You get an alert before your next period telling you when it’s due. This frees you from having to keep checking your diary. You can get on with your life because the app does the thinking and checking for you.

I can’t imagine how women managed without period trackers. The alerts give me a sense of control over my period – instead of it controlling me

While period tracker apps have only been around since 2012, they are already huge. This is mainly because girls and women want more control over their monthly cycle and their lives, and a greater understanding of their body and overall health. It’s also a sign that girls don’t buy into shame and embarrassment when it comes to their menstrual cycle. Let’s face it, all girls and women get periods, and it’s liberating to know the facts and not be afraid to talk about them.

“I love the fact that using a period tracker app means I know where I am in my cycle and don’t have to worry about my period taking me by surprise,” says Emily, 16. “All my friends use them just like any other app – to be in the know and not waste precious time. Mine sends me alerts just before my period’s due and also when I’m pre-menstrual, so I can plan my life realistically depending on my time of the month.”

Choosing the right period tracker for you depends on your cycle, your lifestyle and your priorities in using it. Apart from trackers with a basic calendar programme, you can get ones with a symptom tracking system, enabling you to log and predict symptoms like cramps and breast tenderness, and to schedule alerts. Some period trackers enable you to log specifics in your flow like heavy bleeding, changes in colour and spotting. These are useful for knowing what’s normal for you and for predicting what comes next in your cycle, while alerting you to changes that may mean a check-up is required. A tracker can provide you with essential information to take to a doctor, should you need medical advice.

Other trackers can predict up to three future cycles, enabling you to plan ahead – especially useful if you are scheduling holidays, nights out and trips away. There are also tracker apps that enable you to log your information on a chart that you can print out and take to your doctor when you have a gynaecological exam. Using a tracker means you can keep a check of when you are at your most fertile, whether you’re trying to get pregnant or to avoid it. And there are even trackers with a community feature where you can share updates and concerns with other users, and feel more supported.

To get you started, why not try Nana’s own Periodical app, which combines features of all the best tracker apps and adds a few of its own? Its calendar even syncs with iCal and Facebook so it knows what events you’ve got coming up, helping you avoid period-related stress. If used properly and updated regularly, a period tracker is a reliable way of keeping track of your period and calculating the timing and length of your menstrual cycle. “I can’t imagine how women managed without period trackers,” says Emily. “The alerts give me a sense of control over my period – instead of it controlling me.”

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