Health

You can now man­age your fer­til­ity and mon­i­tor your pe­ri­ods on­line thanks to a crop of clever new apps

DRUM - - CONTENTS - COM­PILED BY KIRSTIN BUICK

PILLS, condoms, in­trauter­ine de­vices and . . . an app? Late last year the US Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion (FDA) ap­proved a birth con­trol app as a method of pre­vent­ing un­wanted preg­nancy. To be fair, Nat­u­ral Cy­cles – which is now of­fi­cially al­lowed to mar­ket it­self as a form of con­tra­cep­tion in the USA – is more than just a run-of-the-mill app.

The birth con­trol sys­tem re­quires a ­basal ther­mome­ter with which users have to mea­sure their body tem­per­a­ture and in­put the data into the app. Us­ing al­go­rithms that track a woman’s body tem­per­a­ture and cy­cle, the app is de­signed to pre­dict from the data when a woman is least likely to be­come preg­nant.

This method, known as fer­til­ity aware­ness, isn’t fool­proof (it’s 93% ef­fec­tive) and does ab­so­lutely noth­ing to pro­tect against STDs, so the FDA move was con­tro­ver­sial among doc­tors.

Nat­u­ral Cy­cles isn’t con­sid­ered a con­tra­cep­tive in South Africa, but there’s cer­tainly some­thing to be said for tech that can help you track your men­strual cy­cle and un­der­stand your body a bit bet­ter.

The app and oth­ers like it are part of the rise in the fast-grow­ing “femtech” sec­tor – tech­nol­ogy de­vel­oped for women’s health. The mar­ket will be worth $50 bil­lion (R711 bil­lion) by 2025, ac­cord­ing to Ven­tureBeat.

Whether you’re try­ing to fig­ure out when you’re most fer­tile or just keep track of when to ex­pect your next pe­riod, there’s an app out there for you.

FLO

There’s a rea­son this sim­ple app is one of Google Play’s top-rated track­ers. If it’s ba­sic track­ing and cy­cle pre­dic­tions you’re af­ter, Flo is a great start.

As with all pe­riod tracker apps, you start by in­putting the dates of your most re­cent pe­riod and how long they usu­ally last, and the app churns out a generic cy­cle for you to plan by. But as you keep track­ing dates and other data (such as your flow, mood and PMS symp­toms) the app gets smarter, giv­ing you more ac­cu­rate pre­dic­tions.

But the best part about Flo is the In­sights page. Us­ing data you’ve put into the app, it churns out in­ter­est­ing info tai­lor­made for you, in­clud­ing bite-size ex­pla­na­tions on ev­ery­thing from the size of your breasts to mas­tur­ba­tion.

Free to down­load from the Google Play and Ap­ple App stores.

OVIA FER­TIL­ITY

This highly-rated app is for women try­ing to con­ceive. Un­like the other apps, this tracks ovu­la­tion rather than pe­ri­ods and gives you a daily fer­til­ity score so you know when it’s a great time to get busy.

You can also ex­port all the recorded data such as pe­ri­ods and food onto an Ex­cel spread­sheet or gen­er­ate graphs on your fer­til­ity win­dow. You can also cus­tomise the ­colour scheme.

Free to down­load from the Google Play and Ap­ple App stores.

MYFLO

The brain­child of US hor­mone guru Alisa Vitti, this takes track­ing to the next level.

It’s less fo­cused on where you are in your cy­cle in terms of fer­til­ity (al­though it does of­fer a fer­til­ity mode) and more on the var­i­ous phases of your cy­cle and how you can work with them. For ex­am­ple, in the fol­lic­u­lar phase, which starts when your pe­riod fin­ishes, low hor­mone lev­els mean an in­crease in con­cen­tra­tion and it’s an op­ti­mal time to be cre­ative, ap­par­ently.

MyFlo also gives you ad­vice on what food and ex­er­cise is best for each phase of your cy­cle, and tips re­lated to what kind of data you in­put – such as how to beat blem­ishes, cravings and more.

The app can be a bit buggy at times, but all the info packed into the app is fas­ci­nat­ing.

Down­load for R27 from the Google Play and Ap­ple App stores.

EVE

Eve mar­kets it­self as the “Cosmo magazine of pe­riod apps” – and you’ll quickly dis­cover why. Along with the stan­dard track­ing sys­tem, Eve is full of quizzes, sex tips and tricks as well as fun Cy­cle­scopes, which of­fer daily horo­scopestyle fore­casts based on where you are in your cy­cle. “Take ad­van­tage of your ris­ing lev­els of take-charge testos­terone and get your fi­nances in or­der!”

Its cheeky ap­proach to track­ing is also re­fresh­ing. Tick “Do me now” if you’ve had a high sex drive on a given day, and rate your flow from “light” to “crime scene”.

Free to down­load with in-app pur­chases on the Google Play and Ap­ple App stores.

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