As dreadful as periods can be, they are important indicators of health and hormonal balance for us ladies. And unfortunately, we’ve spent a long time ignoring their importance at a societal level.
However, the Bellabeat Ivy is riding the wave — erm, the red wave? — of the femtech boom. That is, health tech designed with the unique needs of women in mind. The Bellabeat Ivy is a fitness wearable that’s sleek and feminine. Although you can't tell from looking at it that it’s a fitness tracker, the Ivy coordinates just as well with a cocktail dress as it does with activewear.
The real star, though, is the Bellabeat app, which tracks your sleep, heart rate, and exercise, and offers one of the most robust (and prettiest) period trackers I’ve tried.
The Ivy wearable looks like a cute tennis bracelet. The heart rate tracker is housed in a diamond-shaped pendant with metallic accents, and the silicon band is about a third of the width of a typical fitness watch band. I chose white with gold accents, but they have several different color options available.
The band is made long to ensure it fits most wearers, and is designed to be cut to size for people with thinner wrists.
All you have to do to charge the Ivy is place it on top of the diamond-shaped charger base. However, the charger is very tiny and lightweight, so I had to weigh down the cord to keep it flat while charging the device.
The Ivy also has a really long battery life. I’ve found that it will last me about a week, especially with less frequent syncing.
Data from the wearable syncs to the Bellabeat app, which features four key sections: Wellness, Readiness, My Diary, and Coach.
The Wellness section calculates your daily wellness score based on five factors: steps, activity, meditation, water, and sleep. The device can calculate your steps, activity, and sleep, but you’ll need to manually enter water and meditation. You can also edit the goals for each of these factors to make them a better fit for you.
The next section, Readiness, provides a different score based on your resting heart rate, respiratory rate, and cardiac coherence, and it can help you decide if you can push yourself on a given day or if you need to take it easy.
My Diary is the period tracker. It shares the common symptoms reported by other users on each day of your menstrual cycle, which — at times (like the dreaded PMS week) — can make you feel a little less alone in your symptoms.
You can also track your symptoms, mood, weight, temperature, medications, supplements, sex, contraceptive use, and other diet-related factors or events each day. It’s very thorough.
The final section, Coach, is the paid section featuring workouts, meal plans, recipes, and guided meditations. With your purchase of the Bellabeat Ivy, you get six free months of Coach access. Otherwise, it’s $9.99 per month. I don’t generally use things like this very much, so I probably wouldn’t pay for access after my free trial was up. However, I love that it offers bodyweight barre and pilates classes, and face yoga.
I only have two gripes with the app. First, there is a glitch in the date entry screens. If you want to track a date within a certain month, you actually have to choose the following month. So if I wanted to track my period as starting on April 21, I’d have to enter it in the app as May 21.
Next, you have to manually sync the watch after opening the app. For Fitbit and Garmin, syncing starts automatically when you open the respective app. It’s not a huge deal, but I went days without syncing during my testing because I simply forgot, even though I was active on the app to log cycle symptoms.
A few downsides
Unfortunately, after years of wearing a fitness watch that allowed me to easily check the time and date just by glancing at my wrist, there were many times while testing this tracker that I glanced down to check the time only to be disappointed.
The Bellabeat Ivy also lacks some of the other basic functions that smartwatches provide such as alarms, timers, and notifications from your phone.
The wearable exists solely to transmit biometric data to the app. It doesn’t have any other features. Granted, it looks great while doing so — and there are some other fantastic, highly-rated wearables that don’t provide watch functionality (like the Oura ring or Whoop).
Still, if you’ve grown used to using your fitness wearable as a watch, an alarm, or a proxy for your phone, it may not be the best fit.
I love the look of the Bellabeat Ivy, and the app is great, too. I think I’d be all in on the device if it also functioned as a watch — though I get how that's counteractive to it looking like a piece of jewelry. But even if I go back to my old watch, I probably will keep using the Bellabeat app for period tracking.
At $249, its price is comparable to other fitness trackers that offer more features. However, Bellabeat does uniquely focus on holistic health for women — which is a breath of fresh air. According to the Bellabeat website, they’ll soon be rolling out pregnancy tracking and cycle-based goal features on the app, too.
Also, if you dislike the look or bulkiness of most fitness trackers, or find that they are too casual for your career or day-to-day look, the Ivy may be a perfect fit.