With 1,116 Period Tracker Apps, How Can You Choose?

By Eva Martin, MD of Elm Tree Medical Inc.

If you search for a period tracker app on the iTunes store, you will get about 1,116 results. That's what happened when a group of researchers from Columbia University decided to sort and rank existing menstrual cycle apps. Read on to learn about their favorites and findings.

The Columbia app-researching champs wanted to sort through free, English-language, menstrual cycle apps only. After eliminating the apps that did not meet these criteria, they found only 108 apps remaining on their list. After sorting through the apps for accuracy, only 20 apps remained. That's quite the reduction from over 1,000 to just 20. Fortunately, it is much more manageable to sort through 20 apps for ease of use and features. 

Of the 20 free, English-language, accurate apps, 80% contained information about conception (trying to get pregnant) and 50% contained information about contraception (trying not to get pregnant). The authors evaluated common features that increase usability: 55% of the apps were password protected, 80% didn't require an internet connection to work, 65% did not have advertisements, and 70% had in-app tech support. With regard to functionality, 70% allowed users to track amount of menstrual flow, 70% symptoms, 75% intercourse, and 75% cycle length. 65% had alerts for your next menses and 55% predicted fertility. It was rare for apps to cite the medical literature (5%) or involve professional input (5%).

These results are very helpful given that 68% of women starting contraception track their menstrual cycles, and period tracker apps are the fourth most popular health apps amongst adults. Amongst adolescent females, period tracker apps are the second most popular health apps. Of the 90,088 health apps on the iTunes store, 7% relate to women's health and pregnancy. While providers report that information from health apps promotes patient understanding of health needs, this information needs to be accurate first and foremost! For this popular topic, this new review of apps is very helpful for women seeking a trustworthy and easy to use app.

We want to hear from you! Do you have a favorite period tracker app?