How to Keep Track of Your Period: Apps, Devices, Charts, & More

Marie-Claire De Villiers
By Marie-Claire De Villiers
Romi Hector
Edited by Romi Hector

Published June 2, 2022.

A woman looking down at a period tracking app on her cellphone

How to Know When Your Next Period Is Coming

It can be tricky to track your periods when they're irregular, which is quite common. However, women can look out for certain symptoms that signal a period around the corner. If you're wondering when your period is coming, look out for the following:

  • Abdominal bloating or cramping
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Pimples or acne
  • Joint or back pain
  • Headaches
  • Tender or swollen breasts
  • Fatigue or lack of focus
  • Changes in appetite
  • Sensitivity to sound and light
  • Irritability
  • Depression or anxiety

Remember, every woman is different. If your symptoms are different from your friend's, that doesn't mean anything is wrong with either of you.

Period Tracking Devices

There is a range of period tracking or menstrual cycle tracking devices on the market that can be used in different ways. These are usually apps or small electronic devices.

These devices present possible dates of when your period might start and finish. They usually also indicate when premenstrual symptoms might begin and when your ovulation window is—essential information if you're trying to conceive.

Our team of women's health experts did the research and tested numerous products. They reviewed these according to efficacy, cost, and usability. Take a look at our round-up of top devices and apps for anticipating periods and ovulation.

Note that there are also numerous free options that are relatively good.

Menstrual Charting

Menstrual charting is another way to anticipate periods, premenstrual problems, and ovulation. You can do your own menstrual charting by simply using a calendar to keep track, or you can use a period chart, an online menstrual calendar, or an ovulation tracking app, which may have some added benefits such as notifications that can be linked to your phone or computer.

How to Chart or Monitor Your Cycle

Mark the first day of your period as day one. Then, mark the first day of your next period. Count the total number of days between the first days of each period. This should give you an indication of the length of your cycle.

Period Tracking Apps

Period tracking apps are becoming more and more popular. With a range of good free options on the market, it's not surprising that more and more women use them to make planning their lives easier. Menstrual tracking apps can be especially useful if you:

  • Are trying to fall pregnant
  • Are not on birth control such as the pill that allows you to see when your period is coming (note that the injection and IUDs often result in irregular periods)
  • Experience unpleasant symptoms during your period and want to plan around them
  • Need to order prescription pain medication in advance for painful periods or hormone-related pain such as migraines
  • Need to take menstrual leave from work

Other Important Things to Note about Period Trackers and Devices

The more detail or data you can provide, the more accurate the tracking is likely to be. You will need to provide information such as the length of your periods, dates of when you have had them, symptoms during the premenstrual phase, temperatures at various points of the month, and even moods and emotions.

There are a few apps on the market that do not use physical indicators to predict period start dates, but these are only about 20% accurate.