Those with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome can benefit from Statistics on Menstrual Health.
Apple continues to reveal findings from its continuing Women's Health Research, and today, ahead of International Women's Day, it's announcing new results (March 8th). Based on data from more than 37,000 individuals, the paper, which can be found on Harvard's website, offers some insights into Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and cardiovascular health.
The participants in Apple and Harvard's study were diagnosed with PCOS between the ages of 14 and 35, with the median age being 22 years old. They were also more likely to have a family history of the syndrome and have irregular menstrual cycles following their first periods.
According to the study, more than 70% of those who did not have PCOS reported their menstrual cycles became regular within four years of their first period, whereas just 43% of those who had PCOS said the same. In fact, 49 percent of those diagnosed with PCOS never had regular menstrual periods or only did so after taking hormones.
The study also looked into the health issues that come with PCOS. Participants with PCOS were four times as likely to have pre-diabetic symptoms, three times as likely to have Type 2 diabetes, and twice as likely to have high blood pressure and high cholesterol, according to the study. It also stated that people with PCOS diagnoses had more irregular heartbeats or arrhythmia than those without.
Apple did point out that these are only preliminary findings. Medical history surveys were completed by over 37,000 participants between November 2019 and December 2021, yielding the data. About 30,000 of individuals who completed the medical history questionnaires also completed reproductive history questionnaires, answering questions about their menstrual cycles over time.
"The Apple Women's Health Study is one of the first studies where we can look at the connection between menstruation health, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and heart health at a population level," says co-principal investigator Dr. Shruthi Mahalingaiah.
"Despite the link between PCOS and heart-related conditions," Mahalingaiah added, "historically, research studies about heart health have not included information about menstrual cycles," adding that the study "is important for having a better understanding of PCOS and its health impacts, including for people with PCOS and those who may have PCOS but are unaware."
Apple and Harvard hope to "build a broader fundamental data set on PCOS, with self-tracked characteristics, and its connection to heart health" in the future.
"We anticipate that by better understanding the public health burden of PCOS, we will be able to develop research models that can be used to advance scientific understanding of other health problems and disease burdens," Mahalingaiah said.