For women, tracking the ups and downs of periods is a little easier with an app than with pen and paper, but not necessarily as seamless as some ads would have you believe. Period trackers tend to make the uncouth assumption that users want to get pregnant or avoid getting pregnant and most don’t take into account variables like short period cycles. But Flo (for iOS and Android), takes a different approach. Using artificial intelligence, it provides a holistic overview of a variety of period-related symptoms and health issues.
The San Francisco-based Flo, which launched in October 2015, is designed to help women predict their menstrual cycles, ovulation, and fertile days with greater precision. It’s a calendar-based system — users schedule cycle reminders in a monthly tracker. But Flo also considers in its analysis a wide range of factors that might influence period cycles, including health information like mood, contraceptive methods, PMS symptoms, and sexual activity.
It boasts one-touch fast entry with icons that match common symptoms, plus Smart Tracking, a feature that automatically adjusts the app’s calendar to match cycles. Flo Rx suggests specific four-week programs if Flo detects recurring symptom patterns. And the app’s symptom tracker gives insight into cramps, headaches, acne, cravings, mood swings, insomnia, fatigue, among other symptoms.
It is also calibrated to help treat polycystic ovary syndrome, endometriosis, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, fibroid, low sex drive, menopause, bloating, and even fatigue. It offers recommendations on ways to “optimize hormones” and fix symptoms,” including exercise tips (which workout type is best for each cycle), focus tips (which social and work activities are optimized for the week’s brain chemistry), and love tips (the best sex for each cycle phase).
“The Flo app provides our users with perfect tools for this,” CEO Maxim Scrobov said. “They can analyze how their appetite varies throughout their cycle, examine the mood swings and physical changes. The approach will help women better ‘understand’ their bodies, and based on provided smart recommendations, it will encourage them to change their patterns to more healthy lifestyles.”
Flo’s artifical intelligence-assisted tracking is especially pertinent in light of a new study published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology. Researchers found that of the top websites and smartphone apps that claimed to accurately predict a women’s fertile window, only four accurately predicted it.
And Flo’s dedication to privacy is music to the ears of women worried about their data. According to a recent investigation by Consumer Reports, Glow, one of the most popular fertility trackers on the market, had a major flaw that could let anyone who knows a user’s email address access that person’s data. Flo’s data is password protected. A data backup option lets users start tracking a period on one device and pick it up on another.