App Review

Top free menstrual cycle tracking apps for your patients

Clue, Glow, and Pink Pad Period Tracker Pro are popular because of their accuracy and special features

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App overload is a challenge for both providers and patients. As of September 2015, the number of health apps in the US Apple iTunes and Google Play stores exceeded 165,000, with approximately 7% focused on women's health and pregnancy.1 Clinicians express interest in promoting the use of health apps with their patients and seek guidance about making app recommendations.2 In my prior articles in this "App review" series, I have recommended due date calculator and drug reference apps.

One area in which an app may enhance your patient care is in menstrual cycle tracking. Patients may be more honest with their phones than with their health care professionals, and the results are more accurate than paper questionnaires and calendars.3 Of note, menstrual cycle tracking apps are the fourth most popular health app among adults and likely even more popular if limited to adult women.4

Dr. Paula Castano and her team systematically identified and evaluated free menstrual cycle tracking apps.5 The accuracy of each app was determined by menstrual cycle predictions based on average cycle lengths of at least 3 previous cycles, ovulation predicted at 13 to 15 days prior to the start of the next cycle, and qualification that the application contained no misinformation.5

The top 3 recommended menstrual cycle tracking apps from Dr. Castano and colleagues' study are listed in the TABLE alphabetically and are detailed with a shortened version of the APPLICATIONS scoring system, APPLI (app comprehensiveness, price, platform, literature use, and important special features).6 I hope this column will allow you to feel more comfortable recommending these "vetted" apps to your patients.

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