Apple has released the preliminary data of its Women's Health Study, which offers new scientific insights on women and their menstrual symptoms. The Apple Women's Health Study team at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health conducted the study using the Research App.
After analyzing the responses of the first 10,000 participants of varying ages and races across the US, it was found that there is a wide range of menstrual cycle symptoms. About 83 per cent of the participants reported abdominal cramps, 63 per cent bloating, and 61 per cent reported tiredness as the most frequently tracked symptoms. Hot flashes and ovulation pain were the least reported symptoms.
More than half of the participants reported experiencing acne and headache. About 50 per cent reported mood swings and appetite changes. Diarrhoea, lower back pain, breast tenderness, constipation and nausea, etc., were some of the other reported symptoms.
"The preliminary data we are sharing today suggests women across the country have a shared experience of a wide range of menstrual symptoms, and that this natural monthly occurrence is something we should be having more discussion about," Dr Shrithu Mahalingaiah, one of the study's principal investigators.
The study invites women across various stages of their life, varying races, and throughout all US states and territories to contribute to the research by using their iPhone and Apple Watch if they have one. The app then collects a comprehensive set of cycle tracking and other health data from participant surveys. Participants can control the data types shared with the study and know how the data will be used for the study.
According to Apple, a woman's menstrual cycle is an important window into women's overall health. But the issue is not given much attention and is under-researched. Women, irrespective of their age and ethnicity, express similar symptoms, but without substantial scientific data and limited studies in the area, the symptoms are often dismissed as "as overreaction or oversensitivity."
The study also shows how large-scale, longitudinal research on menstruation can help advance science around women's health and destigmatize menstruation. "These findings take us a step further in validating and destigmatizing period symptoms," said Dr Sumbul Desai, Apple's vice president of health.