Your Apple Watch is Science! New Study Uses Apple Watch Data to Fill the Gaps in Women’s Health Research

In a first of its kind study, Apple partnered with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) to gain a deeper understanding of how certain demographic and lifestyle factors could have an impact on menstrual cycles and gynecologic conditions including infertility, menopause, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). The findings of this landmark study were released recently and underscored the importance of paying attention to menstrual cycles and their connection to overall health.

According to Apple, “Many physicians consider periods a vital sign, but this area of health is notably under-researched.” This study was significant in advancing research because of its scope and scale because it invites anyone who has ever menstruated across the US to contribute to this research simply by using their iPhone. This allowed researchers to gather extensive data from women across all demographics.

Dr. Shruthi Mahalingaiah, MS, Harvard Chan School’s assistant professor of Environmental Reproductive and Women’s Health and co-principal investigator of the Apple Women’s Health Study remarked,

“This analysis highlights the importance of talking to a healthcare provider when menstruators are experiencing persistent changes to their period that span many months. Over time, we hope our research can lead to new strategies to reduce disease risk and improve health across the lifespan.”

Study Findings

Wearables like the Apple watch have been noted as an important research tool to help bridge the current gaps in women’s health. Which Omnia Health notes as:

  • Timely diagnosis and support for conditions like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), perimenopause and menopause
  • The management of infertility
  • Menstrual cycle and reproductive health awareness

Harvard Chan School researchers used survey data from the Apple Women’s Health Study to advance the scientific understanding around the relationship between persistently abnormal periods, PCOS, and endometrial hyperplasia and cancer. Looking at a preliminary analysis cohort of over 50,000 study participants, the study team found:

  • 12 percent of participants reported a PCOS diagnosis. Participants with PCOS had more than four times the risk of endometrial hyperplasia (pre-cancer of the uterus) and more than 2.5 times the risk of uterine cancer.
  • 5.7 percent of participants reported their cycles taking five or more years to reach cycle regularity after their first period. Participants in that group had more than twice the risk of endometrial hyperplasia and more than 3.5 times the risk of uterine cancer, compared to those who reported their cycles took less than one year to reach regularity.

The research team plans to continue conducting research, gather data, and publish their findings. If women would like to be a part of the study, they can visit the STUDY WEBSITE for more information and to download the app.


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