(Pocket-lint) - "When was the first day of your last period?". Ever been asked that question and literally had no idea of the answer? You aren't the only one. We've all been there; twiddling our thumbs and looking at the floor, hoping an even close-to-accurate answer will miraculously come to us.
There is an easier solution though - female health tracking apps. There are a number of apps you can use to track your period and predict ovulation and fertility windows, from Fitbit to Natural Cycles, and Apple is also launching female health tracking on iPhone and Apple Watch later this year too.
Here are some of the best female period tracking apps and devices we've used to monitor our cycle, ovulation and fertility so far.
Natural Cycles is a cycle tracker and contraception app that requires a subscription, as well as you measuring your temperature every morning with a basal thermometer before you get out of bed - the results of your which you will need to enter in the app each day. The more you measure, the better the app's algorithm gets at learning your specific cycle.
You can pick whether you are avoiding pregnancy or planning pregnancy. A big green circle appears within the app on the days that sex without contraception is deemed to be safe based on your cycle, if you're avoiding pregnancy. For the days where getting pregnant is possible, you'll get a red circle with the words "Use Protection" in the middle. The colours are vice versa for those planning a pregnancy.
For the first few months, you'll get more red days (when avoiding pregnancy) as the app learns. After a few months, Natural Cycles will know your cycle better (assuming you've given it the data it needs) and offer plenty of data and predictions, including graphs and fertility days. You will need to militant when it comes to measuring your temperature though, as well as entering each day your period is present. There's also the option to enter other symptoms and activities too.
Glow has a number of different apps under its umbrella, including one for pregnancy, but it's the Fertility Tracker app we are focusing on for this feature. Grow Fertility Tracker allows you to log various symptoms, moods and sexual activity to help you monitor your fertility and cycle.
It's predominantly aimed at women hoping to get pregnant so it isn't a contraception app like Natural Cycles, but Grow does offer plenty of in depth analysis, personalised information in a cycle chart and pattern detection. There's also plenty of information available within the app about menstrual health and topics like egg freezing.
Glow is free to download and use, but there is a subscription plan available too that offers access to more features, such as a custom profile, access to private messaging within the Glow community and more premium articles. We've used the free app though and we've found it more than sufficient.
Like Glow, Clue is free to download and use. It's a brilliant period tracker app that offers period, ovulation and fertility predictions, as well as reminders for when you when you might notice PMS.
Like Natural Cycles and Glow, Clue allows you to track various symptoms from sex to mood swings and the more information you provide it, the smarter it becomes. You'll get calendar reminders before you next period is due, as well as before you are predicted to ovulate and Clue offers upcoming predictions for three cycles.
Clue also offers the ability to track your basal temperature for more accurate ovulation and fertility predictions and it's also possible to track birth control or plan a pregnancy. There is a subscription option, which gives you access to Clue Plus, offering enhanced analysis of your cycles and forecasts. Like Glow though, we've found the free version more than adequate.
Like Glow, Ovia offers a couple of different apps, including a pregnancy tracker that's really easy to use and understand. The Ovia Fertility and Cycle Tracker app allows users to track their period, ovulation, symptoms and moods, as well as things like sex, flow, blood pressure and sleep.
There are daily tips and over 2000 articles to read around the female cycle, fertility and sexual health and users can choose between different modes, depending on whether you are using the app to try and conceive or not. There's even the option to track exercise and activity, with all the information you give the app appearing in a timeline.
For those hoping to conceive, the Ovia Fertility and Cycle Tracker has an ovulation calculator and calendar with a great design showing all your symptoms and information below, offering an easy and simple to use interface. As another plus, Ovia can also be integrated with Fitbit and Apple Health.
Fitbit has offered female health tracking through its app since 2018. It's not as comprehensive as some of the more dedicated apps on this list, but if you use a Fitbit device and you don't want yet another app on your device, it's a good option to have.
Users can set their fertility awareness method, allowing them to choose what birth control they might be on, or the method they use, such as withdrawal. It's also possible to choose whether you get period predictions and/or fertility predictions, as well as edit your period length and cycle length in the settings.
In terms of logging details, users can enter flow intensity, symptoms, moods, sex, fluids and other events, such as the morning after pill. The calendar tab shows predicted and past periods, edited by pressing and moving the bar, but there is also a Trends tab to summarise your average period length, average estimated ovulation day and average cycle length.
Apple will introduce female health tracking when it launches iOS 13 later this year - likely September. Users will be able to track various information about their cycle, including period, flow level and symptoms, whilst also being able to log fertility metrics like basal body temperature and ovulation test results.
The information will be available in the Apple Health app - which some apps on this list integrate with already - and users will be able to see period predictions for three cycles, as well as receive notifications to remind you to log your period and if your next period is approaching.
Additionally, like many other apps on this list, Apple's female health tracking feature will offer a fertility window prediction with notifications, and the ability to view your entire cycle history and your symptoms. You'll also get cycle statistics including the date of your last menstrual period, your typical period length, your period length variation, your typical cycle length, and your cycle length variation.
The downside: It will be for iOS users only.