Apple publishes first menstrual symptom data from women's health study

Mariella Moon
·Associate Editor
·2 min read

Back in 2019, Apple teamed up with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the NIH's National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences for its women's health study. The initiative aims to uncover insights about people's health in relation to menstrual cycle by collecting data through the Research app for the iPhone and Apple Watch. Now, the tech giant has published its first set of data, which came from analyzing the menstrual cycle symptoms tracked by 6,141 out of the first 10,000 participants who enrolled to take part. 

Based on the results, the most common symptom is abdominal cramps reported by 83 percent of the participants. That's followed by bloating and tiredness, reported by 63 percent and 61 percent of the participants, respectively. They also reported acne, headache, mood changes, appetite changes, lower back pain and breast tenderness. 

Meanwhile, the more uncommon symptoms include diarrhea and sleep changes (37 percent each), as well as constipation and nausea (32 percent each). The least tracked symptoms were hot flashes and ovulation pain, which were only reported by 22 percent and 20 percent of the participants, respectively. In addition, Apple and its partners analyzed the reported menstrual symptoms in relation to participants' ages, ethnicities and locations to show similarities and differences across demographics.

Apple
Apple

The team says it's hoping the study can remove stigma around menstruation and normalize the experience of symptoms so that women, girls and people with menstrual cycles don't get deterred from seeking care for menstrual-related pain. "By building knowledge," the results' announcement reads, "the study is helping to understand factors that make menstruation difficult and isolating for some people. This includes cycle irregularity, extreme pain, or ovarian cysts." Anybody interested in contributing to the study can still do so by downloading the Research app, though they need to be at least 18 years old to participate.