How to track your period safely post-Roe

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As soon as Roe v. Wade was overturned on Friday, June 24, calls for people to delete their period-tracking apps were all over social media. These apps gather extremely personal data that could pinpoint a missed period. The fear is that in the hands of law enforcement, this data could be used to bolster a criminal case against a person who attempts to get an abortion in a state where it is restricted or banned.

Right now, and I mean this instant, delete every digital trace of any menstrual tracking. Please.

— Prof Gina Neff (@ginasue) June 24, 2022

Delete your period tracking apps today.

— Jessica Khoury (@jkbibliophile) June 24, 2022

Understandably, a lot of people are scared and confused. So here’s our guide to what you need to know about period-tracking apps, what the apps’ makers say about their often murky privacy policies, and what alternative methods you can use to track your menstrual cycle that don’t involve handing your data over.

Why use a period tracker?

Stress or dietary changes, among other factors, can make periods irregular and unpredictable. Tracking them can help expose underlying health issues, such as fibroids, which are noncancerous uterine growths. It can also help people spot patterns in mood and energy, which can often be affected by ovulation. People trying to get pregnant often use period trackers to figure out when they’re most fertile. 

So why are people panicking?

The overturning of Roe v. Wade in the US triggered laws that made abortion illegal in 13 states, and more states are likely to ban abortion in the coming months. In states that have banned abortions, people could now be prosecuted if they are alleged to have had one. The worry is that their digital data footprint could be used to build such a case. Missing your period is not a crime, but evidence of it could be subpoenaed and used to bolster a case against someone suspected of an abortion. 

What do companies that make period-tracking apps have to say about this?

We reached out to some of the major period-trac...

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