Apple Watch Series 8 Gets Souped-Up Period and Ovulation Tracking

Apple Watch Series 8 gives users a better estimate of when they ovulated based on data from new temperature sensors.
Using two sensors on the Apple Watch Series 8, the built-in menstrual cycle tracking app checks the user’s temperature on the wrist every five seconds. This should allow tracking of ovulation as body temperature changes over the course of the menstrual cycle and rises in response to ovulation.
watchOS 9 and iOS 16 will also include changes to the cycle tracking app that highlight any abnormalities in a user’s menstrual cycle based on the data they enter about their periods. Deviations from a person’s normal cycle — such as more spots than usual — could signal health problems like uterine fibroids or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), said Sumbul Desai, Apple’s vice president of health, at the launch event.
Apple is launching its ovulation detection feature as a way to help people trying to conceive. “If you’re trying to conceive, knowing if and when you ovulated can inform your family planning with your health care provider,” Desai said.

An iPhone screen showing a graph of wrist temperature data collected on Apple Watch.

Apple Watch Series 8 measures wrist temperature every five seconds at night.

People who use temperature information to predict when they are most likely to conceive usually have to take their temperature manually. Apple Watch would do that automatically — similar to how the Oura Ring collects temperature and other types of user data to predict when a person might start their period.
This type of temperature-based cycle tracking and ovulation detection is also commonly used as a way to: to prevent pregnancy. It can work well if done correctly, but it’s hard to do it right and is not a good method for people with irregular cycles.
Apple’s feature cannot be marketed as a way to prevent pregnancy because it is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a contraceptive. But the new features are closer to comparable technology that is be marketed as contraception. For example, the Natural Cycles app was controversially approved by the FDA as a contraceptive in 2018. It uses information about body temperature and cycle tracking to predict the times of a month when a person is most likely to get pregnant and lets them know to use condoms or refrain from having sex.
Natural Cycles also has FDA approval to use information from wearable devices to make predictions. It currently accepts temperature information from the Oura Ring. Natural Cycles has discussed the potential to pull information from the Apple Watch as well, spokesperson Lauren Hanafin said in an email to The edge. The company would need to run validation testing before that could happen, and the use case would depend on how accurate it is, she said.

It’s also noteworthy that in the few months after the Supreme Court ended federal abortion protection, Apple is adding cycle-tracking features — which could theoretically be used to determine whether a person is or has been pregnant. Experts haven’t seen any bike-tracking information used to prosecute people suspected of having abortions in places where it’s no longer legal, but that’s still a potential risk.
Cycle tracking data on Apple devices is encrypted and Apple cannot decrypt or read it, Desai said at the event. “Your health data is yours and yours alone,” she said.



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