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Apple WatchOS 6: How to track your menstrual cycle and fertility

How to use Apple's new period-tracking features.

cycle-tracking
Apple

Menstrual-cycle tracking is nothing new, but now there is a new, dedicated way to do that on your Apple Watch or iPhone via the Apple Health app. Appropriately named Cycle Tracking, the feature allows you to keep a log of your period, keep tabs on fertility and get a heads up on when your next cycle begins.

Tracking your period helps you be prepared for its arrival, so you're not caught off guard and scrambling to find a tampon. But, more importantly, it can keep tabs on your health. Being able to record how heavy your flow is, how painful your cramps are and the presence of any other symptoms -- like mood swings, breast tenderness and acne -- can help you and your doctor determine if you have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis.

Tracking your cycle is also useful if you are trying to get pregnant, or not get pregnant, because you can see when you're ovulating.

Read more: Apple Watch Series 5 review

How to use Cycle Tracking

Within the Apple Health App on your iPhone, tap the Browse tab, and then tap Cycle Tracking. To get started, you'll need to provide the date of the first day of your last period, the average length of your period and the average length of your full cycle. You can also decide if you want Cycle Tracking to give you fertility predictions and/or log fertility data (like sexual activity and ovulation test results).

Once you're set up, you'll see the current date at the top of the app. You can tap on any date to indicate that you had your period that day. Beneath the calendar, you can record symptoms and record how heavy your flow is. 

As you log information about your cycle, the app will predict when your next period will begin and send you notifications on your iPhone and/or Apple Watch. You can also set up notifications to let you know when you're ovulating and to remind you to log your symptoms during your period.

Screenshots by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

Read more: Online birth control and fertility tests: What to know before you buy

If you are tracking your fertility, you can record stats like basal body temperature or the results from an ovulation test. The app uses that information to create a fertility window, or the few days each month when you're most likely to get pregnant. 

Like most period-tracking apps -- such as Clue and Eve -- the more information you provide, the more accurate the predictions get. As you use Cycle Tracking month after month, you'll get stats about your cycle, such as the average length and flow of your period.

There are a lot of different dashboards within Cycle Tracking, which can feel like information overload. However, I do appreciate that there are many different symptoms you can record, from acne and cramps to sleep changes and headaches. I'd like to be able to add my own symptoms, but for now, that's just not possible.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.