From time to time, Apple conducts studies that provide insights and valuable data to improve health of the people. The most recent study that Apple conducted — in association with Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health and the National Institute of Environmental Health Science — to gain a deeper understanding of menstrual cycles and gynecologic conditions among women.
The study — using iPhone and Apple Watch — was done to better predict gynecologic diseases like infertility and PCOS, and how demographic and lifestyle factors impact these.
The survey data from the Apple Women’s Health Study helps researchers understand the relationship between persistent abnormal periods, PCOS, and heart health. The researchers found that about 12% of study participants reported a PCOS diagnosis.
The study further revealed that more than 70% of participants without PCOS reported that their menstrual cycles became regular within four years of their first period. In comparison, only 43% of participants with PCOS reported that their cycles become regular during the same time frame. Other data that came out from the study showed that participants with PCOS can have a higher prevalence of conditions that can negatively impact heart health. These participants were almost four times more likely to have pre-diabetic conditions; three times more likely to have Type 2 diabetes. Further, irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia was more common among participants with PCOS (5.6%) than participants without PCOS (3.7%).
Accurately tracking periods and symptoms may help doctors make important diagnoses, which is critical in risk assessment, prevention of some unwanted effects of the disease. The Health app on the iPhone and Apple Watch comes with a Cycle Tracking feature. The feature encourages users to stay in touch with their menstrual cycles and the symptoms they are experiencing during it, and track that information next to all of their other health information.
Shruthi Mahalingaiah, MD, MS, FACOG, assistant professor of environmental, reproductive, and women’s health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said that “Despite the association between PCOS and heart-related conditions, historically, research studies about heart health have not included information about menstrual cycles.” Elaborating on the benefits of the study, she further added that “Our study is filling a research gap by diving deeper into understanding how periods and menstrual cycles can be a window into overall health.”