March 10, 2021 – The Apple Women’s Health Study released preliminary data Tuesday showing a wide range of menstrual symptoms reported by users, including the most common – cramping, gas, and fatigue.
The iOS Health app added period tracking in 2019, and researchers hope the data will improve understanding of women’s health and destigmatize menstruation.
“Our study will help achieve an equitable future in which all people with menstrual cycles have access to the health services and menstrual products necessary to feel safe and empowered,” said Michelle Williams, dean of the faculty at Harvard TH Chan The School of Public Health that conducted the research said in a statement.
The preliminary analysis included the first 10,000 participants who signed up for the iPhone Research app and provided demographic data. More than 6,100 participants registered their period symptoms, with 83% reporting abdominal cramps, followed by 63% tracking gas and 61% tracking fatigue.
About half also reported acne, changes in appetite, chest pain, headache, lower back pain, and mood swings. About a third reported constipation, diarrhea, hot flashes, nausea, ovulation pain, and difficulty sleeping. The frequency of symptoms was common across ages, races, races, and geographic locations.
Menstrual cycles can often shed light on a person’s overall health, but menstruation has not been adequately researched, the Harvard researchers wrote. Small studies were often limited and not representative of a wider population.
“Without substantial scientific data, women’s menstrual symptoms have historically been shown to be discharged or even minimized as overreaction or hypersensitivity,” the researchers wrote.
The study team will continue to analyze the data and provide a detailed report for review and publication in a journal.
“What researchers and doctors in the scientific community want and need to know is more about the menstrual cycle, its relationship to long-term health, and what environmental factors can affect cycle length and characteristics,” said Dr. Shruthi Mahalingaiah. A leading researcher and assistant professor of environmental, reproductive and women’s health at Harvard told Gizmodo.
How many scientists it takes to say the startlingly obvious: The Apple study confirms that women have cramps during certain periods of time https://t.co/3aw8z4k9g7
– Sam Baker (@SamBaker) March 10, 2021