(Natural News) Navigating the maze that is your menstrual cycle? There’s an app for that. However, as a recent study revealed, most of these period tracking apps are seen as inaccurate and should be way less pink. According to the study by researchers from the University of Washington, most women are disappointed with most of the available period-tracking apps, saying that while they can be helpful, they are mostly inaccurate in predicting future cycles, and inconsiderate of life stages users might be in at a particular time (pregnancy or menopause, for instance). Respondents also expressed dislike for the stereotypical pink and flowery designs that most period apps have.
The study, led by doctoral student Daniel Epstein, analyzed data gathered from 2,000 period-tracking app reviews, surveyed results from 687 participants, and included in-depth interviews from 12 respondents. The research focused on nine period-tracking apps available on the Android Play Store and the Apple App Store.
Apps turned out to be the most popular period-tracking method among women: 47 percent of whom use an app to monitor their cycle. Meanwhile, 12 percent used digital calendars, and eight percent used paper calendars. A small number of women used other methods of period tracking, including following their hormonal birth control, observing pre-menstrual symptoms, and simply remembering when their last period was. Still other women said they did not keep track at all.
The inaccuracy that women observed in period tracking apps may be chalked up to the apps’ lack of flexibility. As many respondents pointed out, a lot of period-tracking apps don’t work as well for those with irregular cycles. They also don’t account for life-changes such as stress, changes in diet or exercise, or changes in birth control methods, all of which have an impact on a woman’s cycle.
The researchers urged app designers to include features that take life changes into consideration in making cycle predictions. At least in allowing women to log an inaccurate prediction as it happens to improve future accuracy, the researchers said. At the same time, the study showed that the predominantly pink, floral themes of most period apps are not popular among women, with many of them finding it condescending. According to a respondent: “It makes me feel like you are trying to ‘dumb it down’ for me. Why can’t keeping track of my menstruation be a professional and organized task?”
Why track periods?
The study revealed that women track their periods for five major reasons:
- To be more aware of their health in general — Knowing the normal processes of one’s body means any abnormalities will be easier to detect and deal with. For instance, an article on Medium.com says that tracking one’s cycle keeps one alert for any symptoms of the five gynecological cancers (womb, cervical, vulval, vaginal, and ovarian).
- To understand how their bodies respond physically and emotionally to different phases of their cycle — As one respondent said, “I’m really emotional and irrational and I can look at my tracker, see that my period is due in a week or less and chill out and realize I’m PMS-ing instead of having real feelings.”
- To prepare — Apart from knowing when to have tampons and pads at the ready, being familiar with one’s cycle can also help in planning schedules such as beach trips. In fact, it may even be helpful in planning dental appointments and waxing sessions. As BestHealthMag.ca pointed out, estrogen levels and pain tolerance peak during ovulation, so knowing when this occurs could be an advantage for women.
- To aid in pregnancy — Being aware of one’s most fertile period can help increase the chances of being pregnant.
- To have enough information to give doctors and healthcare providers during appointments — Knowing when one’s last menstrual period was is a routine question during doctor’s visits for women.
Accurate period tracking is also crucial to those who are actively avoiding pregnancy, especially if they rely on fertility-awareness based methods for birth control, which are seen as a less-risky alternative to birth control pills and patches.
Read up on more issues surrounding female health on WomensHealth.news.