Someone somewhere right now is either thinking or saying the words, “Women are complicated.”
And in a way, it’s true. Women are complicated. Especially when it comes to our periods. There is no “normal” period. Every female body reacts to its menstrual cycle differently.
But things are about to get slightly less complicated for women because, according to The Verge, Apple has finally stepped it up in the female health game.
In Apple’s newest operating system — iOS 9 — they have finally added period tracking to their built in health-tracking app, Health. Health will also reportedly integrate a popular period tracking app called Clue as well as some other period trackers.
So now, along with tracking body measurements, fitness, nutrition, and sleep data with Health, female iPhone users will now be able to easily track their menstruation. Other period trackers, like Clue, let women also track things like their “pain, mood, fluid, sexual activity and personal notes,” according to Clue’s website.
And this is huge. Apple was widely criticised for “excluding women” in their newly launched health app in 2014.
“Apple introduced comparatively niche tracking options like copper intake or selenium intake in Health before it got around to something as basic as period tracking,” Sarah Perez writes in an article for Tech Crunch.
For those of us who get a period every month — or every few months, or every few weeks, or once a year — our bodies go through a series of hormonal changes that for some, is a minor annoyance, but for an unlucky few, turns us into seemingly completely different people.
Our brains stop working properly, we have trouble sleeping, we get headaches and back aches, we suffer from bloating, constipation, and diarrhoea, we get anxiety and depression, we have trouble concentrating or remembering things, our breasts become swollen and tender, we become extremely exhausted, our bodies crave more food, we’re easily irritated and moody … the list of premenstrual symptoms (PMS) goes on and on.
According to womenshealth.gov, an estimated 85% of menstruating women have at least one symptom of PMS every time they get their period. And for an unlucky 3 to 9% of menstruating women, they suffer from an even more debilitating and severe form of PMS called premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD.
Menstruating women effectively get “sick” for one to two weeks out of every month — yet we’re expected to sweep those very real and sometimes very serious symptoms under the rug as we continue our daily duties.
Which is where the new Apple integration comes in.
Being able to track and plan for these changes in our bodies is huge. We can schedule vacations for times when we’re most able to enjoy them, we can pencil in big meetings for days we know our brains are going to be the sharpest, it can even help us schedule doctor’s appointments.
But period tracking is not only useful for making our everyday lives easier, it’s also important for our health since changes to a woman’s period can signal underlying health issues.
An unusually heavy period can indicate growths in the uterine lining, miscarriage, certain blood clotting disorders, and even some cancers. An unusually light period can flag thyroid problems, hormonal imbalances, obesity, and certain diseases of the uterus. A missed period may mean that you’re pregnant, or are lacking certain nutrients, or that you’re anemic.
Women’s health tracking via smartphone can also help us with our pregnancies by integrating fetal monitoring apps or by helping us plot when we’re most fertile if we’re trying to conceive.
All of these things — in addition to knowing how many steps you take in a day, how many calories you’re consuming and burning, and how long you sleep — are incredibly important for women. They not only empower us to take charge of our health, but they recognise that women face very real issues regarding their periods every day. And if Apple now finally recognises that, perhaps the rest of the world will too.
Now if only they’d stop telling us to smile.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.