Technology has allowed you to track your cycle and plan your life accordingly. These ladies share how it's not only improved their physical health but their mental health, too.
Periods affect so much more than just the state of your underwear. Everything from food cravings to migraines has been linked with a woman's monthly cycle, so it makes sense that it also has a huge impact on your mood. And not knowing when you'll be a weepy, bloated mess or a super-charged, productive go-getter can make your emotional rollercoaster even more intense. Thank goodness for the progression of technology. (Did you know there's even a tampon that can tell you when it's time to change it?) Period tracking apps not only help you chart your cycle, but they can also help you manage your whole life by helping you see the method in your body's "madness" and plan accordingly. (No one wants to be caught on a long car ride without a tampon.) So, we talked to 11 women about how tracking their period has changed their lives—and how you can use the latest tech to help you, too.
Period trackers help you understand patterns
"I started tracking my period after I read 'The New Rules of Lifting for Women', which mentioned how your menstrual cycle can affect your workouts. At first, I started tracking it on a regular calendar but then switched to a specific period tracker app, Woman Log. I tracked my mood, my cravings, my bloating, and even sex. It has helped me figure out so many interesting and surprising things about my body, but particularly my moods. Apparently, I'm mean on day 19, and I'm starving on day 16. Day 5 is always the best though—I feel like I'm on top of the world and can do anything! Before I started tracking, I used to think I was crazy and my mood felt random and unpredictable, but this has shown me that I'm actually pretty consistent and my emotional cycle follows a pretty distinct pattern, just like my physical cycle. Now, if I'm feeling a certain way, I usually just open up the app and validate my feelings."—Leticia S.
Knowledge is power
"I use the free version of P Tracker and it's so helpful. I first downloaded it to just keep track of my period, but I also love having the history of my mood and intimacy. Getting to know my mood better helps me feel like I'm not going crazy out of the blue. I actually made the decision to go off hormonal birth control, which used to be a really good way to track my cycle, but this app now does that tracking for me. When it's time for kids, I'll already have my history of periods, sex, and ovulation. It gives me peace of mind knowing that I have all that data."—Amalia F.
Everything is more predictable
I use Clue, a period and ovulation tracker app. For me, it is all about knowing when my period will arrive. My cycle has always been somewhat of a mystery and not knowing when it was coming made me feel even more moody and anxious. So for the last year, I have tracked my moods, pain, and flow. Now I know the first day is lighter but with major headaches. The cramps hit on day two, day three is heavy bleeding, and day four usually brings back the headaches. This knowledge helps me to plan my life. I work two jobs and it's really lowered my anxiety and stress level. I get a notification that says 'your cycle is about to begin' and within 24 hours, bam, period city!"—Jennifer L.
You have more awareness of pain
"I've always had dreadful PMS and periods, to the point that I've been hospitalized twice due to the intense pain and fatigue. I have always been very intuitive when it came to my body and its ailments, but it wasn't until I actually started tracking all of my health issues using Period Diary that I realized every single symptom had a direct correlation with my cycle. I've tracked everything daily for three years and am now able to predict my debilitating exhaustion, huge mood swings, insatiable hunger and painful breast tenderness which in turn has really helped my quality of life. The tracker even helped me realize caffeine was causing some of my pain, so I cut back."—Christy D.
You gain hormonal control
"I used to have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a disorder that causes hormonal imbalances that led to majorly irregular bleeding. This made my period (and life) feel miserable, confusing, and overwhelming. I also gained 50 pounds, and I have intense cystic acne and depression. As a health professional, I decided to research how food could be used to improve endocrine performance and ultimately balance hormones. Knowing where I am in my cycle makes a big difference in my life, helping me decide if I really want to go out or stay in, what type of food will make me feel best, what kind of workout I'm up for, when I should schedule work presentations, when I'll need some me time, and when I'll likely want sex. I took everything I learned, both from myself and the thousands of other women I studied, and created a tracking app, MyFlo, to help me and other women not only improve their period and maybe even eliminate symptoms, but also to see the patterns in their lives and understand what bodies need at different times during the month."—Alisa Vitti, functional nutritionist, founder of MyFloFLOliving.com, and author of "WomanCode" (Learn what else could be causing your irregular or unpredictable bleeding.)
Everything just makes more sense
Using a tracking app has changed my life. I've struggled for years with anxiety, depression and panic disorder, some of which is definitely connected to my hormonal cycle. I understood that but I wasn't able to connect it and never knew what to expect which made me feel like I was on an emotional rollercoaster each month. Since I've started tracking my cycle though it's started to make more sense. Now, whenever I'm feeling off, all I need to do is look at that calendar. It's amazing how much it can predict or explain how I'm feeling, both physically and emotionally. It can tell me why my skin is terrible, why I'm so depressed, or even why I ate an entire bag of Doritos. To put it bluntly, the app makes the world make sense again." —Jeni S.
You might be nicer to the people in your life
I have chronic headaches and started using a period tracker app to see if they were tied to my menstrual cycle. My period isn't very regular so having the app was key to helping me discover patterns. And sure enough, I noticed some trends, such as I get a headache for three days straight and then the next day my period starts. I've also noticed trends in my levels of irritability which is good to know as I'm the mother of a young daughter and it helps me recognize what's really bothering me—my hormones, not her. I had to purchase the app and I still say it was the best $3 I ever spent!"—Jess S.
It could improve your relationship
My husband actually downloaded a period tracker app on his phone to track my cycles. I'm not motivated or organized to do it myself but he is really good about letting me know where I am in my cycle which has helped me feel better. I like that he is a part in this. It has also helped our marriage. He now knows when to say 'I brought you some chocolate and I'm going to do the dishes, you rest'! And I feel like he understands me better. We both love it."—Anna R. (Related: Is your relationship causing your PMS?)
But old-school methods still work
"Apps are great but you don't have to go high-tech—I'm an old-school girl myself and track my cycles with paper. It has helped me to actually connect with my cycle, balance my hormones, smooth out my moods, and manage my endometriosis. Charting can help you connect with your body and listen to it. It can also help you understand perimenopause and menopause better because you get to see your body really tune into the moon cycles. It keeps you feel connected to the rhythm of the world. And as we know our whole life is connected to our moods, energy, and bleeding so when we're charting we can see what effects what, and how. It also feeds my creative side. I've made a mandala coloring chart so women can track their cycles and make something beautiful at the same time." —Stasha Washburn, The Period Coach.