How Period-Tracking Apps Can Help You Conceive

Woman using phone in the bathroom

Josef Lindau / Getty Images

These days, if you want to keep track of when your period arrives, you have many more options than drawing tiny red dots in your planner. A quick scroll through the app store will reveal numerous options designed to help you track your cycles, as well as your symptoms, fertility, and other markers that can give you a better handle on your overall health.

In addition to helping you prepare for the arrival of your monthly visitor, cycle tracking apps can be a boon for people trying to conceive.

How Period-Tracking Apps Work

When you input the dates of your period into one of these tracking apps, it does more than predict when your next period will occur. “For those with regular periods, tracking your cycle can allow you to reliably predict the window of time when ovulation is expected to occur,” explains Lucky Sekhon, MD, an OB/GYN and reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist at RMA of New York. “To increase the chance of sperm fertilizing an egg, it is important to know when ovulation will occur so you can time your attempt correctly.”

The more consecutive periods you input into your app, the better it can predict your ovulation window, which generally occurs between days 11 and 14 of a 28-day cycle. To have the best chance of conception, you want to time sex or artificial insemination to happen in the two-to-three-day window before ovulation occurs. “The egg only lasts 12 to 24 hours once ovulated, whereas the sperm will last for three to five days,” says Dr. Sekhon.

Knowing your ovulation window is also helpful if your partner has a low sperm count. “Awareness of your fertility window helps you to not overdue coital events and possibly deplete the sperm count of the partner,” notes Felice Gersh, MD, an OB/GYN and medical director of the Integrative Medical Group of Irvine.

Should I Use More Than One App?

If you’re struggling to conceive, your first instinct may be to think more data is better. Experts say using too many period-tracking apps might be overkill. “Generally, using one app at a time is adequate and helps to keep the process under a more controlled state,” says Dr. Gersh. Instead, there are tests you can use to confirm if the app’s predictions of when you are ovulating are correct.

“The tracker apps be augmented with basal body temperature checks and ovulation testing,” Dr. Gersh suggests. When you’re ovulating, your body temperature rises slightly—less than one degree—but a thermometer that is accurate to a tenth of a degree can measure this change and help alert you as to whether or not you are ovulating.

You can also use an ovulation home test, a urine test that measures levels of luteinizing hormone (LH). LH rises when the egg is released from the ovaries. With both basal body temperature checks and ovulation tests, it is recommended to start testing on day 11 of your cycle and to test daily in order to detect changes. You can use these tests in addition to a period-tracking app, but if you find that the results are aligned with the fertile window your app is predicting, you can just go by the app.

Are Period-Tracking Apps Helpful for Everyone?

While period-tracking apps can be helpful for people with regular cycles, they may not help everyone trying to conceive. “In those with irregular cycles due to conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), period tracking apps add no value as they will not be able to predict the irregular interval of ovulation,” explains Dr. Sekhon.

Other causes of irregular periods include primary ovarian insufficiency, thyroid dysfunction, uncontrolled diabetes, Cushing’s syndrome, uterine fibroids, and endometrial polyps, among others.

On the other hand, for people with cycles that are consistent yet shorter or longer than 28 days, period-tracking apps can be extra helpful. For those with longer cycles, for example, their ovulation window may start on cycle day 15 instead of day 11, so they will know to time intercourse or insemination accordingly.

Period-Tracking Apps Offer Community Support

Some period-tracking apps offer a community or forums feature where you can communicate with other users. For people who are struggling to conceive, this opportunity can be a game-changer.

"Fertility struggles create a great deal of emotional pain and lots of loneliness and isolation from friends and family,” says Dr. Gersh. “Having a community to share the pain and the disappointment is a huge benefit for those in this position, and the forums created through apps can be a tremendous
blessing for many. They provide a feeling of acceptance and support unachievable in other ways.”

These forums are also a great place to learn things and find answers to questions you may be hesitant to ask of your partner or other people you know. “Sometimes talking to a third party, even strangers online or in forums, can be a helpful, non-judgmental form of support and act as a way for good information to be shared,” Dr. Sekhon says.

Are Period-Tracking Apps Safe?

In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, many people using period-tracking apps grew more concerned about the security of the personal information they were feeding to these apps and whether or not it could be used against them should they need to seek an abortion. According to Amanda French, Chief Innovation Officer at the reproductive wellness company SimpleHealth, those concerns are not entirely unwarranted.

“I think there is a reason for people to be more intentional about making sure they understand what exactly they are agreeing to and how each app is being used,” says French, who is also the co-founder of Emme, a smart birth control tracking system. “At Emme, we have seen an influx in questions around privacy policies and patients wanting to be reassured.”

The good news: There are safeguards you can look for in the app you choose as well as steps you can take as the user to make sure your data is not shared with anyone else. “There are both privacy safeguards and security safeguards. End-to-end encryption is a great example of a security measure companies can and should use to make sure the data is protected,” says French.

There are also things you should look for in the app’s terms of use and privacy policies. “They should disclose how the data is used if it’s shared with anybody—and if it is, the user should be able to give permission—as well as if the data is being sold. They should also be HIPAA-compliant,” French adds.

In addition to what’s stated in the app’s privacy policies, you as the user have some control over what they do with your data. “Many apps ask if you want to opt-in to share different things,” French notes. “It’s not all or nothing, you can choose to turn on or turn off.”

While it may feel like inputting personal information related to your health and fertility journey is risky, French urges people not to give up the tools they have at their disposal. “Cycle tracking can lead to more manageable periods, a better understanding of fertility, and tracking ovulation whether or not you are trying to conceive,” she says. “You don’t have to stop managing your health. Instead, you need to make sure you are using a tool that is transparent and has your best interests at heart.”

A Word From Verywell

Period-tracking apps are a great way to not only help you predict when your monthly visitor will arrive but also when the best time might be to try to conceive. They can help you figure out when you might be ovulating in order to time intercourse or insemination. Some even offer community or forum features to connect you with others who may be on the same journey.

These apps might not be for everyone though, especially those with irregular periods due to various conditions. As always, you can have a conversation with your doctor to see if a period-tracking app could be helpful for you as you try to conceive.

3 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Pregnancy - identifying fertile days.

  2. National Library of Medicine. Ovulation home tests.

  3. NIH Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. What causes menstrual irregularities?.