We've all been there: The heating pads, the ice cream, and the super-size bottle of painkillers are all signs that our periods have arrived—or will arrive any minute. It may seem that those first-day cramps are the worst thing in the world, but nothing is worse than waking up to a surprise visit from your Aunt Flo (or whatever you decide to call your period). You know, those times you're caught off-guard by your period and slowly realize why you'd been in such a horrible mood the day before or couldn't sleep without fulfilling your craving for peanut butter M&Ms.
What if we told you that there is a way your period will never surprise you again? That, in fact, you can prevent those nasty symptoms before they even get a chance to creep up on you? Period-tracking apps are the most convenient way to follow the progression of your cycle throughout the month and can even keep track of your symptoms and emotions so you know when and why you're feeling that way. We've made a list of the top-rated period-tracking apps out there, so if you want to know when to hit your local drugstore for a tampon (and snack!) run, keep reading.
1. Period Tracker
Period Tracker is either free or $10 on the App Store and Google Play, depending on the program you want. This app is a tried-and-true favorite for many, and the thousands of positive reviews don't lie: App Store reviewer Gina3348 says, "I have been using this app for the past 6 1/2 years and I absolutely love it for many reasons including its insane accuracy and ability to track when you've been intimate, your symptoms, and emotions."
2. Period Tracker Health Calendar
Period Tracker Health Calendar
With an average rating of over four and a half stars on the App Store, Period Tracker Health Calendar remains a user favorite. The beautifully designed app comes complete with features like syncing your tracker to your calendar, creating bar graphs of your moods and fertility, and offering a forum for women to chat about all things feminine hygiene. To top it off, users find this to be incredibly useful information to share with their doctors. "I have begun to see other patterns at the age of 42," says App Store reviewer Lil'fyre, "that will help me and my gynecologist down to [the] road."
Tracking apps can do so much more than just track periods. With Flo Period and Ovulation Tracking—which boasts over 700,000 ratings, by the way—the user can track all kinds of things, like sleep, water consumption, and physical activity. "I've got great charts to reference at doctors appointments for both mental and physical health management," says App Store reviewer Melonlycake about the free app.
This tracking app takes menstrual tracking multiple steps forward. "The predictions and analysis can help you detect irregularities regarding ANY type of info the app collects," says App Store reviewer Lila, meaning anything pertaining to your birth control, whatever type you may use, along with how your skin and hair have been doing, along with exercise, sleep, and ovulation. It provides the user with average statistics from their period so they can easily understand their cycle, which can be incredibly helpful for women who are looking to conceive.
"This is a very necessary thing for all those who menstruate, no matter how regular, or irregular," according to App Store user L00la. As the name suggests, this app allows you to track basically everything that happens in a woman's life, from menstruation to nutrition, and even has a diary feature for those who like to keep their own personal notes.
Eve is "so much more than a mood, sex and period tracker; you need this app if you're a woman," according to Google Play reviewer Iesha. Eve is the app for women who want to take control of their menstrual cycle and their sex lives. It comes complete with a community of women who are openly talking about sex, sharing tips, and empowering each other for being amazing women.
7. Menstrual Period Tracker
Menstrual Period Tracker
"I don't have to worry anymore," says App Store user Mpa011957. "The app tells me with no more than 1 day of error the day for my period! I use this every month." Menstrual Period Tracker makes tracking super user-friendly.
The Cycles app provides a simplified view of your, well, cycle. It shows when you're most fertile, when you should expect PMS symptoms, and when you'll get your period. You can log your symptoms, moods, and sexual activity. Like many of these apps, the more information you input, the smarter and more personalized the app will be for you in terms of predictions and insight into your sexual health. You can also invite your partner to follow your cycle, which can come in handy if you are trying to conceive. On the App Store, it has over 13,000 ratings and 4.6 stars.
9. Cycle Tracking
Apple has its own period-tracking app on the iPhone and Apple Watch. To start tracking, just go to the Health app on your iPhone and tap "Cycle Tracking." You can log your period, and track information like symptoms and basal body temperature. The app also predicts when you'll get your period next and when you're most fertile, which you can set up notifications for on your phone or watch.
Many women use Ovia when they're trying to get pregnant, but it can also be used as a general period tracker, too, since it has a non-TTC (trying to conceive) mode. You can track your period, symptoms, and moods in the app to get fertility and ovulation predictions. And for data geeks, you'll be excited to know that you can even export your data to Excel. The app also has thousands of articles about sexual health so you can learn even more about your body and cycle.
This article was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated by Drew Elovitz and Sarah Yang.
This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be used in the place of advice of your physician or other medical professionals. You should always consult with your doctor or healthcare provider first with any health-related questions. See our full health disclaimer here.