Apple has yet to explain why it didn't include the ability for women to track reproductive health in its Health app, which is bizarre, to say the least, since it included tonnes of other granular tracking options such as how many times you may have fallen.
Health is best at collecting data from devices, but don't forget that you can also manually enter data into Health. Everything but reproductive health data, that is. Apple didn't give women the chance to manually enter their reproductive data.
Reports have labelled the omission of reproductive health tracking as an "oversight" on Apple's behalf. That's not a rational argument however, especially when you realise 53 per cent of iPhone users are female, according to Pew research.
It therefore appears as though Apple deliberately and unfairly ignored half of its customer base - as well as the few period and fertility tracking apps currently available in the App Store.
While we could go on all day with the finger-pointing and blaming, we'll just skip to what matters now: there are roundabout ways to track parts your reproductive health using Apple's Heath app. Keep reading to learn more.
READ MORE: How Apple's HealthKit and Health app works
What is Apple HealthKit/Health app?
HealthKit is described as a developer framework. Just think of it as a set of tools and services that developers and manufacturers need to make their apps and devices compatible with Apple's Health app. Another key aspect is that HealthKit can securely share your health data between apps and services.
Health is Apple's new health and fitness app for iPhone. It rolled out to iPhones in September, alongside the release of iOS 8, and it essentially acts as a visual dashboard. Health pulls all your health and fitness data from compatible apps and smart devices and displays everything via an easy-to-understand interface.
You might use Health to see how many calories you burned during a workout, for instance, or how far you ran in the morning. But you can't use Health to track menstruation, changes in menstruation, or even a lack of menstruation.
Why is reproductive health tracking necessary?
For women, tracking periods is so much more than ensuring they don't bleed through their pants while at school or work. The truth is: the better you know your own body, the better you are at recognising potential health issues.
When a regular menstrual cycle becomes irregular, it could indicate a hormone or thyroid issue or liver-function problem or irritable bowel syndrome or diabetes or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or...you get the point. Beyond health issues, women can track their period as a form of birth control or, on the other hand, as a way to learn when they are most fertile.
The possibilities are endless, though Apple doesn't seem to think so. That said, there have been some people across online forums and comment threads to point out that Apple also didn't include health tracking options specifically for men. Men might want to, for instance, track prostate-related things or even erection duration.
While those people are likely trying to belittle the point, it is worth highlighting that Apple should've included health-tracking options for both men and women in Health. At the moment, it's not clear if Apple ever plans to update Health with gender-specific tracking options.
Are there any workarounds for women?
Apple's Health app doesn't include any specific options for tracking a period, but women can still use the app for tracking their basal body temperature. Sort of. You can manually enter your basal body temperature to the body temperature section, and then you will have access to a graph in Health that shows trends in your basal body temperature over time.
Basal body temperature is your body temperature when you're completely at rest, and most women experience a rise in basal body temperature when they ovulate. If you track your basal body temperature properly, it's possible to determine your fertility window and when your next ovulation might occur.
To get an accurate reading, you should take your basal body temperature when you first wake up in the morning using a basal thermometer. Once you've done that, you can add your basal body temperature to Health. Keep in mind, if you use the body temperature section for basal body temperature, you can't record your body temperature as well.
Like we said, this is just a workaround. If you want perfect solution, you'll have to wait for Apple to update Health.
How do you manually add basal body temperature to Health?
1. Open Health.
2. Tap the Heath Data tab from the bottom menu bar.
3. Tap the All category at the top.
4. Find the Body Temperature section, then tap to open it.
5. Tap Add Data Point to add your basal body temperature.
6. Specify whether you want to share your data and show it on the dashboard.
7. To view your data on the dashboard, tap Dashboard from the bottom menu bar.
Are there any apps or devices for tracking basal body temperature?
Clue is a period-tracking app. It also lets you track your sex life, any physical pains you might be experiencing, moods, consistency of cervical fluid, when to take your birth control pills, and, yes...basal body temperature.
Clue updated in September, enabling the app to automatically share your basal body temperature with the body temperature section of Health (if you so desire). Basal body temperature tracking and period tracking aren't technically a part of HealthKit still, but again, this is a workaround that, well, works.
Ondo and Wink
Clue doesn't come with a basal thermometer. You can buy a standard digital one for $7.99 from Target. Or, if you're tech savvy, which we'll assume you are if you're reading Pocket-lint, you can get app-enabled basal thermometer.
Ondo by Ovatemp is a $75 basal thermometer now available for pre-order. It has a rechargeable battery, support for Bluetooth 4.0, and an app. Wink by Kindara is another app-enabled basal thermometer now available for pre-order. It costs $79.
We couldn't find whether the thermometers' apps will automatically add your basal body temperature to the body temperature section of Health, but you can always use them in conjunction with Clue (or just manually enter basal temp data yourself).