Abdominal cramps, bloating and tiredness: These were the most common symptoms reported by 60 percent of participants who were part of an Apple Women’s Health Study, which seeks to “destigmatize menstrual symptoms.” For generations, women have complained of these symptoms during their monthly cycles, and Apple’s study team at Harvard’s TH Chan School of Public Health seems to confirm the same.
The study is “based on a cohort of 10,000 participants and includes different ages and races in the United States.” Participants are those who have signed up for the study in Apple’s research app. The study states that women, regardless of age, ethnicity suffer from similar complaints during menstruation; complaints that are often not taken seriously.
Apple’s statement also notes that while menstrual cycles are an important window into women’s overall health, the topic is poorly researched and studies are limited to smaller sizes. These are not representative of the general population. Furthermore, the lack of “substantial scientific data” means that women’s menstrual symptoms are generally discounted or, worse, referred to as “overreaction or hypersensitivity.”
“Our study will help achieve a future with greater gender equality, in which all people with menstrual cycles have access to the health services and menstrual products they need to feel safe and empowered,” said Dr. Michelle Williams, dean of Harvard Chan School faculty. . “By building a strong base of generalizable knowledge, the Apple Women’s Health Study helps us understand the factors that make menstruation difficult and isolate for some people, as well as increasing awareness of a monthly experience shared by women across the world. world”.
“These findings take us a step further in validating and destigmatizing period symptoms,” said Dr. Sumbul Desai, Apple’s vice president of Health. “Harvard Chan researchers are leaders in the field on this critically important topic, and we couldn’t be more proud to support and help scale their efforts through the Research app.”
What the Apple Women’s Health Study Shows
A preliminary analysis of the data appears to “validate women’s experiences of a wide range of menstrual cycle symptoms, including some that are less known or discussed.” Abdominal cramps, bloating, and tiredness are the most common.
More than half of the participants also reported acne and headaches as symptoms. Other less recognized symptoms include diarrhea and sleep changes, and 37 percent of study participants followed them, which again is by no means a small percentage.
Initial analysis also suggests that these symptom trends hold across a wide range of demographics, including age, race, and geographic location. According to Apple, “Participants control the types of data shared with the study, with transparency about how the data will be used for the purposes of the study.”
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The research team will continue to investigate the preliminary data and present a detailed analysis, including a breakdown of the methods, for peer review and publication in journals. The study aims to “advance the understanding of menstrual cycles and how they are related to various health conditions, such as polycystic ovary syndrome, infertility and the transition to menopause.”
To participate in the study, subjects must be in the US and must be at least 18 years old (at least 19 years old in Alabama and Nebraska and at least 21 years old in Puerto Rico) and must have menstruated at least. at least once in your life. The study is being conducted in partnership with the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and the NIH National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).