Before we go ahead, let me admit that I essentially use my Apple watch to vaguely confirm that I might the reincarnate of a sloth. I say this because before I had the watch on my hand, I would regularly indulge in some light exercises, huff and puff furiously and pretend my workout for the day was done. With the Apple watch, my excuses have gone out of the window and I have to close the activity rings. Something I take very seriously.
There’s plenty to do with an Apple watch besides wait for the rings to close – you can track your period cycle. My periods are pretty regular but for my fellow persons who grapple with PCOS, there’s an interesting study Apple recently did. The Apple Women’s Health Study is a first-of-its kind study led by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and Apple to gain a deeper understanding of menstrual cycles and gynaecological conditions in these times, given that our lifestyles and health have witnessed a completely overhaul and there has been a seismic shift in the way view health and wellness. The aim of the study was to get insights into how to better predict gynaecological diseases like infertility and PCOS, and how demographic and lifestyle factors impact these, using iPhone and Apple Watch.
The Big Reveal
Survey data from the Apple Women’s Health Study should help researchers draw conclusions and understand the relationship between persistent abnormal periods, PCOS, and heart health. In a preliminary analysis of a cohort of Apple Women’s Health Study participants, researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found:
12% of study participants reported a PCOS diagnosis.
Participants with PCOS:
- Were diagnosed between ages 14 and 35, with a median age of 22 years old.
- Were more likely to report a family history of PCOS.
- 23% of participants with PCOS also had family history of PCOS.
Were more likely to have unpredictable menstrual cycles after menarche (first period).
- 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.
- Almost half, 49%, of the participants that reported a diagnosis of PCOS never had regular menstrual cycles or achieved regularity only after using hormones. In comparison, only 22% of participants without a diagnosis of PCOS never had regular menstrual cycles or achieved regularity using hormones.
Participants with PCOS in this cohort 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, trhree times more likely to have Type 2 diabetes, two times more likely to have high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Besides this, the prevalence of obesity was almost double for participants with PCOS than participants without PCOS. Tracking periods can lead to diagnosis, which is critical in risk assessment, prevention of some unwanted effects of the disease, and implementation of behavioural changes towards better health.
You can use the health app on the Apple watch to track your periods, put in the symptoms of the period and the Apple watch will give you regular updates about your period cycle. It can also accurately predict your next cycle date, keep updates of your flow and offer you a comprehensive insight into your period cycles. The Apple watch makes period tracking easy. Now only if it could ease period cramps, that would be all I would ask.