Should you TRUST a hormone tracker? The apps which claim to help your skin glow, improve your sleep and even tell you when it is safe to have sex
- Women’s cycles last between 21 and 40 days making technology hard to judge
- Dr Marion Gluck of The Marion Gluck Clinic, London, said they a pretty accurate
- FEMAIL put seven different trackers to the test to see if it makes things easier
Women, we know, can cope with 100 things at once. We juggle children, family, jobs, pets and boring admin daily, and on top of it all, weather the fluctuations of our monthly hormone cycles.
While you probably knew technology could help with the first items on that list, now it can help with the last, too, thanks to a new breed of sophisticated hormone-tracking apps.
These do so much more than just help you get pregnant (or avoid it); the latest algorithms keep an eye on your body and key symptoms in order to build patterns so that you can forecast everything from ovulation, menstruation and menopause to things like headaches, mood swings and how you’ll feel about exercise on any given day.
But with women’s cycles lasting anywhere between 21 and 40 days, how accurate can a piece of technology really be?
Pretty good, according to Dr Marion Gluck of The Marion Gluck Clinic in London, who specialises in hormone- balancing therapies.
‘These apps are extremely helpful for women to understand what is going on in their body. Every woman is individual and their hormone balance unique.
‘Apps can track hot flushes, insomnia or irregular bleeding — incredibly important knowledge to take to a doctor to find solutions where necessary.’
We put seven different trackers to the test to see if a little knowledge about your hormones’ behaviour could make things easier . . .
Pinpoints the signs of perimenopause
A hive of information and support for those at the perimenopause or menopausal stages, which are often a baffling and unwelcome development for midlife women. Track less well-known symptoms such as anxiety, brain fog, dry eyes, restless legs or fatigue and view videos on back and breast pain, with demonstrations of the stretches you need to relieve them.
There’s a social forum and discussion boards on a range of topics from insomnia, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and sex drive.
Sticking point: Expensive to get full content, which you need to make it worthwhile.
Cost: Free, or £8.49 per month for Luxe membership. 4/5
Pinpoints the signs of perimenopause: App mySysters is a hive of information and support for those at the perimenopause or menopausal stages
Predicts glowing skin and hair
A popular app that tracks ovulation, menstruation and fertility plus your period. It comes recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists — but Clue can also track how your hair and skin changes over the course of your monthly cycle.
Hair and skin, whether dry, oily or normal, are affected by hormonal shifts throughout your cycle and also change during different stages of your life. Typically hair is bad around days one and two of your period. Who knew?
Sticking point: Some users report inaccuracies in the tracker, so it might not be too useful if you’re trying to get pregnant.
Cost: You can use all the features you will need for free, or it costs £3.99 a month for 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
Work out planner for athletes
This app, aimed squarely at sportswomen, comes with a wealth of tips on how to tailor workouts to your menstrual cycle. Changes in hormones can affect the body’s metabolism, recovery time and susceptibility to injury and illness.
FitrWoman tells you when to focus on high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and when to concentrate on strength, as well as dishing out 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 their lowest levels.
This can trigger localised inflammation, which may cause some PMS symptoms.
FitrWoman suggests taking ginger, known for its anti-inflammatory properties, at this stage of your monthly cycle.
Sticking point: An interface with a highly confusing calendar.
Cost: Free. 3/5
Work out planner for athletes: FitrWoman tells you when to focus on high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and when to concentrate on strength
Best for young girls
With a cute, discreet design that’s quick and simple to navigate, this is a good app for mothers to show to daughters facing their first period.
Premium users can track monthly symptoms, write notes, and read up on related topics such as the impact of sugar on hormones. There’s a strong fitness element too, as Period Tracker lets you measure your daily step count and weight, as well as track everything from salt cravings and joint pain to mood.
To describe your symptoms, you can pick from a collection of endearing emojis, illustrating feelings such as lethargy, impatience or energy, which users say feels like a form of therapy.
Sticking point: You need to download the Premium version to make proper use of this.
Cost: Free, or £9.49 annually for Premium. 3.5/5
Best for young girls: Period Tracker is a good app for mothers to show to daughters facing their first period
To ask awkward questions
With more than 100 million downloads it’s not hard to see why this was Apple’s most popular health and fitness app last year.
As well as the usual tracking functions, you can also chat anonymously to other users about subjects such as endometriosis or why the back of your neck smells during ovulation (yes really).
It’s password-protected to keep out nosy friends and family, and the app also sends you friendly reminders, such as to remember to drink regular glasses of water.
Sticking point: It looks a bit like a women’s health pamphlet; all pinks and purples and unappealing stock shots of female groins.
Cost: Free or £3.75 per month for Flo Premium. 4.5/5
To ask awkward questions: Flo was Apple’s most popular health and fitness app last year
Fertility tracker for mums-to-be
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 different 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’s also an option for your partner to download and log in to your data.
Sticking point: It predicted a 9.6 per cent chance of getting pregnant the day I trialled it. This is useful, though hard to verify.
Cost: Free or £7.82 per month for three months for Premium membership. 3/5
Fertility tracker for mums-to-be: Glow users can track different factors, from sexual activity to their lowest body temperature during sleep
For avoiding pregnancy
Marketed as the world’s first and only digital birth control method, Natural Cycles sends you a thermometer to track your basal temperature every morning.
The app then tells you whether it’s ok to have unprotected sex based on your temperatures and other ovulation and hormone data. There are also quizzes and reminders, but, really, this app has one job to do.
Sticking point: The app comes with a disclaimer to acknowledge that it is 93 per cent effective with typical use (i.e. seven in 100 women using it might get pregnant). It’s a gamble to risk unprotected sex on an algorithm and it obviously won’t shield you against sexually transmitted infections.
Cost: £6.99 per month (plus £10 for a thermometer). 2.5/5
For avoiding pregnancy: Natural Cycles is marketed as the world’s first and only digital birth control method
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