Women taking female health into their own hands

Startups founded and run by women are transforming the way healthcare is delivered. Birth control delivery services, at-home STI testing, cycle-tracking apps and more are giving women unprecedented levels of control over their own health.


According to Kate Ryder, the founder and CEO of online health clinic Maven, 80% of healthcare decisions are made by women, who tend to decide not only for themselves but for their children and families. What’s more, the vast majority of healthcare jobs are held by women. Yet, most healthcare decision makers and executives in hospitals, government and insurance companies – perhaps even as many as 80% – are male. Recognizing that this gender imbalance in healthcare boardrooms negatively affects care for women, Kate created Maven to facilitate 24/7 direct contact with healthcare professionals.


Another company, Eve Kit, quotes the World Health Organization statistic that worldwide, over 1 million STIs (sexually transmitted infections) are acquired every day, but says that woman face barriers to getting screened, such as not having time, or feeling uncomfortable with the process. This was the inspiration behind the company’s at-home screening kit, which screens for three of the most common STIs, empowering women to take care of their health right from their very own bathrooms.


Similarly, leading microbial genomics company uBiome has created SmartJane™ – a discreet, quick and accurate way for women to easily test for HPV, STIs, and the balance of vaginal flora, from just one sample.


PRJKT RUBY and Nurx are both inexpensive services that deliver birth control straight to your door. With Nurx, you simply choose your brand of birth control, answer a few questions and enter your insurance and shipping information, and a doctor reviews the request and issues a prescription, which is then delivered to you for free. PRJKT RUBY’s mission to help women goes a step further: for every month of oral contraceptives bought, 25c is donated to support access to contraception for women in the developing world via nonprofit Population Services International (PSI).


There’s even smart tech for your period. Created by Alisa Vitti, a council member at Well+Good and expert in women’s health, MyFLO is a hormone and period-tracking app. It teaches you how to synchronize with your menstrual cycle to enable you to function at top levels throughout the month, and supports family planning by helping you better understand your fertility.


Swedish nuclear physicist Elina Berglund’s Natural Cycles contraceptive app has become the first in history to gain approval as a form of birth control in the EU. A recent study states that when used correctly, the app is as effective as the pill when it comes to preventing pregnancy.


Don’t miss out on NextGen Jane, a company that has developed a ‘smart tampon’ that analyzes genomic signals from cells in your tampon, to discern early signs of disease that may affect your quality of life, not to mention fertility. The aim is to enable women to take real health ownership by tracking their biological changes to prevent disease.


At last innovation is being applied to women’s health, giving women accessibility and control that has been sorely lacking until now.

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