What Data Is Being Stored on Your Period Tracking App?

Due to the uncertainty of when you may start your period, many women have turned to period tracking to help them prepare for when the next period begins and ends. Period tracking is not only meant to help predict your future period but help you better understand your menstrual cycle and hormones.

Key takeaways:
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    Period tracking apps help you monitor your menstrual cycle with your smart devices.
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    Aside from your period, period tracking apps can monitor your ovulation periods and fertility cycles.
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    Period tracking apps may require sharing data like symptoms, mood, bleeding, weight, and water intake.
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    Since most period tracking apps are HIPAA-protected, your data may be sold to third-party companies.
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    If you’re worried about your privacy being compromised, it’s best to avoid period tracking apps entirely.

For those who are tech-savvy, several period tracking apps allow you to input your information revolving around your menstruation. The app then takes that data to predict when your next period will start.

With pertinent information being stored on these apps, it’s crucial to understand what information is being collected that may be sold to a third-party company.

Is it safe to provide your information to these period tracking apps? Continue reading to discover what data your period tracking app may be storing.

What are period tracking apps?

A period tracking app is a resource that women may use to monitor their menstruation period with a smart device, such as a phone, tablet, or watch. With a period tracking app, you can get an idea of when your period comes so that you are prepared for when it officially begins.

Most period trackers will also allow you to input the following information to provide predictions for your next period.

  • Symptoms (e.g., menstrual cramps, headaches, bleeding, fatigue).
  • Mood.
  • Intimacy.
  • Birth control (if applicable).
  • Vaginal discharge (e.g., color, consistency, smell, etc.).
  • Water intake.
  • Weight.
  • Body temperature.

Aside from periods, some period tracking apps can monitor your ovulation days and fertility windows. These features are beneficial if you’re planning to expand your family or if you want to avoid any unintended pregnancies.

Over time, the more information you put into the period tracking app, the more accurate the predictions are.

Benefits of period tracking apps

Using a period tracking app can help you:

  • Gain more control over your menstruation cycles.
  • Become aware of when you begin ovulating.
  • Have a better understanding of how to manage your mood.
  • Give you insight into your sex drive.
  • Get updates on your health.

What type of data does a period tracking app store?

As with any technology that requires your personal information, you may be concerned about what data your period tracking app may store or sell. While most users understand that their information about their physical and mental conditions is collected, there may be other data they may unknowingly share on these apps.

Several period tracking apps have been found to collect the following data from their users:

  • IP address.
  • Location.
  • Smart device system information.

Can this tracked data negatively affect you?

Yes, in some instances, the data your period tracking app has stored on you can negatively impact you. For example, if you’re involved in legal troubles, your period tracking app may sell your data to the government if requested, with or without a court order.

Should you share personal data on period tracking apps?

Ultimately, the decision as to whether you want to share your personal data is only sometimes offered with apps. Typically, apps will notify you if they will collect or share your data with third parties. In addition, they may ask for your permission to sell or use your data for advertising purposes.

If you want to avoid sharing your data, it’s recommended that you avoid using these period-tracking apps entirely. Or, if you’re already using a period tracking app, you may be able to go to the app’s settings to delete your data.

Are period tracking apps safe?

Period tracking apps may be safe, to a certain extent. Period tracking apps are not commonly covered under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This means that these femtech companies won’t face any legal liability if they decide to share your health data.

Fortunately, many companies share that they encrypt their users' data and would never sell them for ulterior purposes. However, there’s uncertainty about whether these femtech companies remain faithful to their promises.

For example, the popular period tracking app, Flo, finalized a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission after they shared their users’ health data with third-party data analytics companies. Flo’s policies promised users’ that they would protect their data, but ultimately shared their information without them knowing.

You must be cautious when using period tracking apps. Despite promises of data encryption and other security measures in their policies, your data information may still be in danger of being shared with third parties.

If you don’t want to use a period tracking app, there are other methods to monitor your menstruation, such as using a calendar (paper or digital) or a notebook.

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