We know that women can handle 100 things at once. We juggle daily with children, family, jobs, pets and boring administrators, as well as withstanding the swings of our monthly hormone cycles.
While you probably knew that technology could help with the first items on that list, it can now help with the latter too thanks to a new breed of advanced hormone tracking apps.
These do so much more than just help you conceive (or avoid it); the latest algorithms monitor your body and key symptoms to build patterns so you can predict everything from ovulation, menstruation and menopause to things like headaches, mood swings and how you feel about exercise in a given day.
But how accurate can a piece of technology be with women’s cycles that last between 21 and 40 days?
Pretty good, according to Dr. Marion Gluck of The Marion Gluck Clinic in London, which specializes in hormone balancing therapies.
“These apps are extremely useful for women to understand what is going on in their bodies. Each woman is individual and their hormone balance is unique.
“Apps can track hot flashes, insomnia or irregular bleeding – incredibly important knowledge to bring to a doctor to find solutions where needed.”
We tested seven different trackers to see if a little knowledge about the behavior of your hormones could make things easier. . .
Indicates the signs of perimenopause
A hive of information and support for people in perimenopause or menopause, who are often a mind-boggling and unwanted development for middle-aged women. Track lesser-known symptoms such as anxiety, brain fog, dry eyes, restless legs or fatigue and watch videos of back and chest pain, with demonstrations of the stretches you need to relieve them.
There is a social forum and discussion boards on a range of topics such as insomnia, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and sex drive.
Bottleneck: Expensive to get full content you need to make it worthwhile.
Cost: Free, or £ 8.49 per month for a Luxury membership. 4/5
Determines the signs of perimenopause: App mySysters is a hive of information and support for people in the perimenopause or menopause stages
Predicts glowing skin and hair
A popular app that tracks ovulation, menstruation and fertility, plus your period. It’s recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists – but Clue can also track how your hair and skin change over the course of your monthly cycle.
Hair and skin, whether dry, greasy or normal, are affected by hormonal shifts during your cycle and also change during different stages of your life. Hair is usually bad around day one and two of your period. Who knows?
Bottleneck: Some users report inaccuracies in the tracker, so it may not be as helpful when trying to conceive.
Cost: You can use all the features you need for free, or it costs £ 3.99 per month for the Clue Plus membership. 4/5
Predicts glowing skin and hair: App Clue is a popular app that tracks ovulation, menstruation and fertility plus your period
Workout planner for athletes
This app, which is completely aimed at sports women, comes with a wealth of tips on how to adapt workouts to your menstrual cycle. Changes in hormones can affect metabolism, recovery time and susceptibility to injury and illness.
FitrWoman tells you when to focus on high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and when to focus on strength, and provides nutritional advice and recipes to boost your intake of carbohydrates and good fats.
For example, in the days before your period, your hormones drop to the lowest level.
This can cause a local inflammation, which can cause some PMS symptoms.
FitrWoman suggests taking ginger, known for its anti-inflammatory properties, at this stage of your monthly cycle.
Bottleneck: An interface with a very confusing calendar.
Cost: Free. 3/5
Workout Planner for Athletes: FitrWoman tells you when to focus on high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and when to focus on strength
Best for young girls
With a cute, discreet design that is quick and easy to navigate, this is a good app for moms to show daughters heading into their first period.
Premium users can monitor monthly symptoms, write and read notes on related topics such as the impact of sugar on hormones. There’s also a strong fitness element, as Period Tracker allows you to measure your daily step count and weight, and track everything from cravings for salt and joint pain to mood.
To describe your symptoms, you can choose from a collection of endearing emojis, which illustrate feelings like listlessness, impatience, or energy, which users say feels like a form of therapy.
Bottleneck: You need to download the Premium version to make good use of it.
Cost: Free, or £ 9.49 per year for Premium. 3.5 / 5
Best for young girls: Period Tracker is a good app for moms to show to daughters facing their first period
To ask difficult questions
With over 100 million downloads, it’s not hard to see why this was Apple’s most popular health and fitness app last year.
In addition to the usual tracking features, you can also chat anonymously with other users about topics such as endometriosis or why the back of your neck smells during ovulation (yes really).
It’s password-protected to keep out curious friends and family, and the app also sends you friendly reminders, such as to remember to drink glasses of water regularly.
Bottleneck: It’s a bit like a health pamphlet for women; all pink and purple and unattractive stock shots of female groin.
Cost: Free or £ 3.75 a month for Flo Premium. 4.5 / 5
To ask tricky questions, Flo was Apple’s most popular health and fitness app last year
Fertility tracker for expectant mothers
Backed by experts in reproductive endocrinology and with information on egg freezing, IVF and miscarriage, Glow is a wildly popular fertility tracker.
Users can track a variety of factors from sexual activity to their lowest body temperature during sleep, which are used to calculate how likely you are to get pregnant that day. There is also an option for your partner to download your data and log in.
Bottleneck: It predicted a 9.6 percent chance of getting pregnant the day I tested it. This is useful, but difficult to verify.
Cost: Free or £ 7.82 per month for three months for Premium membership. 3/5
Fertility Tracker for Expectant Mothers: Glow users can track a variety of factors from sexual activity to their lowest body temperature during sleep
To avoid pregnancy
Marketed as the world’s first and only digital birth control method, Natural Cycles sends you a thermometer every morning to track your basal temperature.
The app will then tell you if it’s okay to have unprotected sex based on your temperatures and other ovulation and hormone data. There are also quizzes and reminders, but this app really does one job.
Bottleneck: The app comes with a disclaimer to recognize that it is 93% effective with normal use (i.e. seven out of 100 women using the app can become pregnant). It’s a gamble to risk unprotected sex with an algorithm and of course it won’t protect you from sexually transmitted infections.
Cost: £ 6.99 per month (plus £ 10 for a thermometer). 2.5 / 5
To prevent pregnancy: Natural Cycles is marketed as the world’s first and only digital birth control method