Track apps

How to track your period without using an app

In light of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs Wade, women across the United States have deleted their period-tracking apps, fearing they could be used against them if they lived in one of the States that have banned abortion. If you’re worried about the security of your personal data on period apps, we talked to a cybersecurity expert here. You’ll also want to check out our guide on how to turn off location tracking on your smartphone.

But how complicated is it to keep track of your period without using an app? And is it easy to determine your most fertile days? To learn more, we spoke to Dr. Michael Belmonte, an obstetrician-gynecologist from Colorado and Fellow of Physicians for Reproductive Health.

Should you delete your menstrual app?

“It’s important to protect your data now, more than ever,” says Dr. Belmonte. “When it comes to policy tracking, how each app handles your data is different, so it’s important to be aware before using each app. Review the security and data privacy policies of a number of the most popular apps; this ranges from apps that can sell our data to outside companies, review data for internal purposes, and for the most part they have a clause that if law enforcement asks data, they will comply with those requests (while some say they won’t comply, it’s hard to know for sure what would happen if law enforcement requests were indeed made).

“Finally, some apps have recently reported that they are going a step further and plan to allow anonymous use of an app, so that they don’t have a record that can directly tie your personal information to you; but, As mentioned earlier, if the period tracking app remains on your phone or in your cloud data, law enforcement could also access it if they break into your phone. It is for this reason that I recommend that you Stay away from these apps because the best way to protect your private health information and data.

How to track your period on a calendar — quick tips

  • Mark the dates of your last period — the day your period started is the first day of your cycle
  • Count your usual cycle length, it should be around 26-32 days
  • Days 8 to 19 are the most fertile. If you are not trying to conceive, you should use protection during this time of the month.

How can you track your period without using technology?

If you decide to cut out your menstrual app altogether, it’s still important to keep track of your period, whether you’re trying to get pregnant or not. Unless you’re on birth control and therefore don’t get your period, the benefits of menstrual tracking are that you may notice missed periods or unexpected changes in your cycle, and see your doctor early if you have any concerns. .

Luckily, tracking your cycle without technology is a lot easier than it looks. “The easiest way to do this is with pen and paper using a calendar,” says Dr. Belmonte. “From here you can track your last period, bleeding days and (if you have predictable and regular cycles between 26-32 days) helps you anticipate when you should expect your next period.

a period monitoring calendar

(Image credit: Getty/Carol Yepes)

How to determine your fertile days

Whether you are trying to get pregnant or trying not to get pregnant, it is important to know which days of the month you are fertile. If you are not trying to conceive, Dr. Belmonte recommends using some form of family planning during your fertile days. “Generally, depending on the lifespan of sperm and an unfertilized egg, your fertile days will range from five days before ovulation (or when the egg is released from the ovary) to one day after. .”

Belmonte wanted to emphasize that the methods described below are intended for people who have regular and predictable periods, without any tracking between periods. Young people, older women approaching menopause, and women who have just given birth, had a miscarriage, or had an abortion may need to research other methods to recognize signs of fertility. Women who have recently stopped taking hormonal contraceptives or are taking other medications also fall into this category.

“The standard days method considers the most fertile days to be cycle 8-19 the first day being the first day of your period. This requires your cycles to be between 26 and 32 days.” If you keep track of your period in your diary, some women place a cross or a circle around these days to remember them.

There are also physical signs that you’re in that fertile window, says Dr. Belmonte. “Cervical mucus methods require you to be able to distinguish between changes in your mucus, such as amount and thickness. Before ovulation, mucus tends to be thin and slippery and increase in volume, whereas after ovulation, mucus thickens and decreases in volume. Therefore, you should avoid sex or use another method of birth control as soon as you notice cervical mucus; but it can be confusing for people who use feminine hygiene products, breastfeed, use lubricants, or have unprotected sex. One method is called the TwoDay Method, where you check your mucus at least twice a day, and if you noticed mucus yesterday or today, you’re probably fertile. Pregnancy is less likely after two consecutive days without noticing cervical mucus.

“If you want to use any of these methods, it may be worth seeking formal training or advice from a reproductive health care specialist, to make sure you understand all the nuances and to see if you would be a good candidate,” said Dr. Belmonte adds.

a picture of a period tracker app

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

But what about women who don’t have regular cycles? “For those who have cycles that don’t follow a predictable pattern, neither this method nor even period-tracking apps would be helpful, as the algorithms aren’t advanced enough to take this into account. Having cycle data over three months will be very useful for you to predict what will happen in the months to come,” adds Dr Belmonte.

“While your cycle doesn’t have to be the same number of days each month to predict fertile days, it may be necessary to widen the window of potential fertile days to avoid any issues. But if your cycles don’t follow a predictable pattern, it can be very difficult to determine your fertile days and period tracking is unlikely to be helpful,” says Dr. Belmonte.

What about tracking your temperature?

“Basal body temperature monitoring by itself is not a good way to track fertile days or prevent pregnancy,” warns Dr. Belmonte. “This is because your most fertile days will occur 2-3 days before you see an increase in body temperature, which occurs around the time of ovulation.”

“This method is also very strict in that your temperature must be taken every morning right after waking up but before getting out of bed, doing any activity or even just eating or drinking. It can also be rejected by other elements that can mimic an increase in body temperature, such as various medical conditions or acute illness, such as a cold, flu, or even COVID.

“Using basal body temperature in combination with other factors, such as cervical mucus and/or a hormonal fertility monitor, may be more reliable,” says Dr. Belmonte.

If you have questions about your cycle, family planning, or trying to conceive, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor.