Whether you're trying to conceive, or just trying to track your menstrual cycle, it can be tricky to find apps that aren't all pink flowers and cheesy platitudes. Here are some of the better choices.
There are plenty of menstrual cycle tracking apps on Apple's App Store and the Google Play Store, but there's a lot of cheesy pink to roll your eyes at before you locate those with useful features. Not that there's anything wrong with pink - it's the assumption that because it's an app for women it must be pink that means you sometimes have to hunt for the good among the silly.
Features we liked among those we looked at were decent tracking and graphing, sensible sharing options and customisable colours for those of us who aren't so fond of pink.
Temperature tracking This lets you keep tabs on your body temperature and graph it over your monthly cycle. You should measure your basal body temperature before you get out of bed in the morning, or after at least 3 hours of sleep. The basal body temperature rises in response to hormonal changes and indicates when you are ovulating, staying slightly higher for three days in a row. You're fertile for a couple of days before the temperature spikes, and on the day of the spike, so tracking it over several months is a good way to know when you're fertile.
Cervical mucus tracking Cervical mucus changes over your monthly cycle, going from cloudy and sticky just after your period, to clear, thin and slippery when you ovulate and then back to cloudier and thicker just before your period. You can chart the thickness to help identify the days when you're most likely to be fertile, whether you're trying to get pregnant or avoid it.
Prediction A good app should take account of your average cycle length and predict the start of your next period based on your data, rather than some arbitrary 28 day "normal" cycle. If it can't predict, then hopefully you should be able to calculate your averages and customise the app to show them.
Sharing If you're trying to conceive, you want to be able to quickly and simply tell your partner that it's time to get busy. An app should help out with that, whether by dropping a note on a calendar or sending an email. Posting your status to Facebook or Twitter? Not so much.
Up front information If you just want to know how many days until you're due or when you're next ovulating, or even if you want find out whether you're going to have your period for that big party, it's great if that information is presented simply and discreetly.
So which apps do we like? Kindara Fertility Tracker, (iOS, free for iPhone), is a data-geek's idea of period-tracking nirvana. With graphing, colour-coding and reminders, it's central to your quantified-fertility-self. Kindara lets you choose whether you're trying to get pregnant or avoid pregnancy, which is a nice touch. You do have to sign up for an account so that you can back up your data (you can't opt out of doing so), but if you want a full-featured app, it's fantastic.
If you want a little less quantification (read: nagging for data) then My Days (iOS/Android, free) is functional and utilitarian. It tracks body temperature, but not mucus consistency. However, it can email data if you want to let someone else know when you're fertile (or that your period has arrived) and keeps track of, and predicts, ovulation and your period.
If pregnancy is not your main aim, try My Cycles (iOS, Free). You can change the colour scheme, track your mood and PMS symptoms such as bloating, and even note when you "had fun" which some may find handy, even if the design is a little cutesy. The Pro version, which costs $1.99 includes temperature tracking for fertility, but it's easier to stick to the free version for tracking and use something designed for pregnancy, like Kindara, if you need that.
Ovuview (Android, Free or US$5) is almost as detailed as Kindara, and lets you select whether you just want to track menstruation, conceive or avoid pregnancy. I found its icon-heavy interface a bit much at first, but you can test it out in demo mode until you're ready to use it in full - and the icons do make it trickier for someone to figure out what you're doing if they're looking over your shoulder on the train. You'll have to pay $US5 for pregnancy tracking and fertility prediction features, though.