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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

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.

References

(1.) IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. Patient adoption of mHealth. Parsippany (NJ): IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics; 2015. http://www.imshealth.com/files/web/IMSH%20Institute/Reports/Patient%20Adoption%20of%20mHealth/IIHI_Patient_Adoption_of_mHealth.pdf. Published September 2015. Accessed June 6,2017.

(2.) Terry K. Prescribing mobile apps: What to consider. Med Econ. 2015;92(12):35-38,40.

(3.) Wortham I. We're more honest with our phones than our doctors. NY Times Magazine. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/27/magazine/were-more-honest-with-our-phones-than-with-our-doctors.html?_r=0. Published March 23,2016. Accessed June 6.2017.

(4.) Fox S, Duggan M. Pew Research Center. Mobile Health 2012. http://www.pewinternet.0rg/files/0ld-media//Files/Reports/2012/PI P_Mo bileHealth2012_FINAL.pdf. Published November 8,2012. Accessed June 6,2017.

(5.) Moglia M, Nguyen H, Chyjek K, Chen KT, Castano PM. Evaluation of smartphone menstrual cycle tracking applications using an adapted APPLICATIONS scoring system. Obstet Gynecol. 2016;127(6):1153-1160.

(6.) Chyjek K, Farag S, Chen KT. Rating pregnancy wheel applications using the APPLICATIONS scoring system. Obstet Gynecol. 2015;125(6):1478-1483.

Katherine T. Chen, MD, MPH

Dr. Chen is Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Science and Medical Education, Vice-Chair of Ob-Gyn Education for the Mount Sinai Health System, Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai, New York, New York.

The author reports receiving royalties from UpToDate, Inc.
TABLE Top 3 recommended menstrual cycle tracking applications

App                              App comprehensiveness           Price

Clue                             * Allows fertility              Free
                                   tracking for women
iTunes:                            trying to conceive
https://itunes.apple.com/us/
app/clue-period-tracker-         * Contains information on
period-ovulution-tracker/          contraception or pregnancy
id667189652?mt=8

Google Play:
https://play
.google.com/store/
apps/details?id=com
.clue.androld&hl=en

Glow                             * Allows fertility              Free
                                   tracking for women
iTunes: https://itunes.apple       trying to conceive
.com/us/app/glow-fertility-      * Contains information
period-and-ovulation-tracker-      on contraception
app/id638021335?mt=8               or pregnancy
                                 * Includes tracking of
Google Play:                       fertility medications
https://play.google.com/
store/apps /details?id=com.
glow.android&hl=en

Pink Pad Period Tracker Pro      * Allows fertility              Free
                                   tracking for women
Google Play: https://play          trying to conceive
.google.com/store/apps
/details?id=com.alt12
.pinkpadpro&hl=en

App                              Platform      Literature used

Clue                             iTunes and    References
                                 Google Play   provided
iTunes:                          store         for science
https://itunes.apple.com/us/                   information section
app/clue-period-tracker-
period-ovulution-tracker/
id667189652?mt=8

Google Play:
https://play
.google.com/store/
apps/details?id=com
.clue.androld&hl=en

Glow                             iTunes and    None reported
                                 Google Play
iTunes: https://itunes.apple     store
.com/us/app/glow-fertility-
period-and-ovulation-tracker-
app/id638021335?mt=8

Google Play:
https://play.google.com/
store/apps /details?id=com.
glow.android&hl=en

Pink Pad Period Tracker Pro      Google Play   None reported
                                 store
Google Play: https://play
.google.com/store/apps
/details?id=com.alt12
.pinkpadpro&hl=en

App                              Important special features

Clue                             * Password protection
                                 * Medical disclaimer
iTunes:                          * Health education
https://itunes.apple.com/us/     * Data back-up
app/clue-period-tracker-         * Email/export
period-ovulution-tracker/        * Spanish language
id667189652?mt=8                 * Custom reminder
                                 * Track flow
Google Play:                     * Track symptoms
https://play                     * Track intercourse
.google.com/store/               * Alert next menses
apps/details?id=com              * Alert for fertility
.clue.androld&hl=en              * Average cycle length

Glow                             * Password protection
                                 * Social media
iTunes: https://itunes.apple     * Medical disclaimer
.com/us/app/glow-fertility-      * Health education
period-and-ovulation-tracker-    * Data back-up
app/id638021335?mt=8             * Email/export
                                 * Custom reminder
Google Play:                     * Pregnancy mode
https://play.google.com/         * Track flow
store/apps /details?id=com.      * Track symptoms
glow.android&hl=en               * Track intercourse
                                 * Alert next menses
                                 * Alert for fertility
                                 * Average cycle length

Pink Pad Period Tracker Pro      * Password protection
                                 * Social media
Google Play: https://play        * Medical disclaimer
.google.com/store/apps           * Health education
/details?id=com.alt12            * Data back-up
.pinkpadpro&hl=en                * Email/export
                                 * Spanish language
                                 * Custom reminder
                                 * Pregnancy mode
                                 * Track flow
                                 * Track symptoms
                                 * Track intercourse
                                 * Alert next menses
                                 * Alert for fertility
                                 * Average cycle length
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Title Annotation:APP Review
Author:Chen, Katherine T.
Publication:OBG Management
Date:Jul 1, 2017
Words:929
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