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Creating a balance: Hormones, health and Hormona

A big problem when it comes to knowledge around our hormones is that most women are not taught about their importance

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Hormone health hormonia

While our hormones affect our lives in many different ways, we often don’t think about keeping them healthy, happy or balanced.

Hormona offers personalised hormonal health through its app that aims to educate and empower women to live better and healthier lives.

FemTech World meets Jasmine Tagesson, the co-founder of Hormona to discuss hormones, general well being and how, when it comes to health, knowledge is power.

Hormones are responsible for a lot more than we give them credit for. They can regulate our appetites, libido, sleep, heart rate, mood and stress levels. Imbalances happen when there is too much or too little of a hormone in our bloodstream which causes side effects throughout the body.

Hormones are chemicals that are produced by the glands in the endocrine system. They travel through the bloodstream to tissues and organs to tell the organs what to do.

Hormona and hormones

The idea for Hormona came from founder Karolina Lofqvist’s struggle to get diagnosed with hormone imbalance and thyroid disease.

“My co-founder started to feel very unwell about seven years ago. She was eventually diagnosed with hormone imbalances but it took a good three or four years before she was diagnosed with this and thyroid disease. Upon being diagnosed she set out to start talking about all of these common and uncommon conditions that you can suffer from as women.”

“Hormona started as more of a platform around mental and physical wellness because so many of these things affect your mental health too. Karolina personally learned about the connection between our bodies and our minds and the importance of both being balanced for you to live a healthy life. She wanted to share this with other women.”

Hormona Hormone tech

This was at the start of 2019 and Jasmine joined the company six months later. She had grown up with Karolina in Sweden and she knew she wanted to get on board with a company focused on female health and empowerment.

“After a while, we started talking to the community to find out what they wanted to learn about. After long discussions, what came across was the lack of knowledge around our hormones and how they affect us. A lot of people don’t know how they fluctuate throughout our cycle. They are connected to premenstrual symptoms or how we feel. It became apparent very quickly that this was an area we need to focus on.”

A big problem when it comes to knowledge around our hormones is that most women are not taught about their importance. This education is missing from discussions with our doctors, in our sex education and not even properly discussed with friends.
Hormona’s research backs this up. They reported that 80 per cent of women suffer from hormonal imbalances yet 75 per cent said they do not understand their own hormones.

“I think part of the problem is that we are missing this information from the start. Where is this education in schools? We don’t talk about how our periods and hormones work during sex education. We focus on the sexual side of things in terms of not getting pregnant or having unprotected sex. There was nothing about hormonal contraceptives and how they affect your natural hormonal system. We aren’t told much about menopause until we are in it so there is a definite lack of information all around.”

Hormona works by giving women the tools to address hormone imbalances and the associated symptoms. It provides the education that has been lacking for so many women.

“The main way to deal with our hormones and if they are imbalanced is through lifestyle and nutrition. Changing your lifestyle so there is less stress or your diet to promote better health is how you will balance your hormones.”

It’s not always the same symptoms that present when it comes to a hormone imbalance. Different people can have different symptoms and there can be up to 45 different signs such as weight gain, weight loss, acne, hair loss, anxiety, brain fog, depression or low libido.

Hormona hormone tracking

Jasmine explained that the list is never-ending which makes it hard to diagnose because all the symptoms can be signs of other problems too.

“Many people don’t realise that their symptoms are connected to a hormone imbalance so they just learn to live with it. So the first step of Hormona, our app, is to help women detect and manage their personal cycle patterns and individual hormonal rhythm along with associated symptoms. Our app provides women with daily hormonal expectations and best tips along with tracking facilities and a community.”

Hormone cycles

Jasmine also highlighted that there are ways of changing your work to better suit your hormonal cycles. This could potentially boost productivity.

“We work on the same terms as men do but men have a 24-hour cycle compared to our 28-day cycle. We have certain days in our cycle where we are not the most productive and shouldn’t be working eight hours a day or taking big meetings. There are other days where we will be doing 14 hour days because we have so much energy. We want to try to help women optimise their life around their hormones and not necessarily be forced to follow a man’s cycle because it’s not how women’s bodies work.”

Hormona is also working on developing a first of its kind home hormone testing kit that will help women understand their hormone levels and fluctuations as well as to detect any concerning changes from the comfort of their own home.

Another statistic from Hormona’s research noted the sad reality of a lack of knowledge around hormones. It revealed that 60 per cent of women felt lonely in their hormone journey.

“Until recently, you didn’t talk about these things. You may have two friends you could talk to about periods but it wasn’t your everyday conversation. This is changing which is great and I feel social media has played a huge part. There are so many people raising awareness and talking about it which makes it less taboo.”

Femtech, funding and Hormona

When it comes to funding, Hormona has done well but Jasmine highlighted a problem that a lot of femtech and female-led companies face – how to pitch women’s products to a board room full of men?

“It’s tricky talking about a female issue with a group of male investors. It’s not easy because they can’t relate. People just assume that when you talk about hormones, it’s all about fertility. We have to say, no, we are not in the fertility space at all. Hormone health is its own area and it deserves the same amount of attention.”

So is the answer more women in board rooms? Jasmine is not convinced.

“The more women in the industry the better obviously, but the sad thing is that women are actually much tougher critics of other women and their ideas. It’s the same in many industries so we wrote an article about toxic femininity and how it exists in the workplace which is a similar thing. Women in powerful positions are very competitive.”

She added: “My view is that we are stronger together. If we can join forces then there is a positive change for all of us. Regardless, I think investors do see the value in Hormona and they see that hormone health and femtech is such a hot topic which makes them want to be involved. Then the lack of knowledge in that field makes them a bit unsure but I think this is slowly changing and I’m sure we’ll hear about hormone health more and more in the next couple of years.”

*The original article appeared in November on Health Tech World

Hormonal health

US virtual abortion clinic to launch new reproductive health services

Women will be able to access the same FDA-approved medications they get from their doctor directly from home

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The US virtual abortion clinic Hey Jane has announced it will expand its reproductive and sexual health services to improve women’s access to healthcare at home.

The company will start offering vaginal infections treatment including UTIs, yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis and herpes both oral (HSV1) and genital (HSV2), birth control, and emergency contraception.

The clinic says women will be able to access the same FDA-approved medications they get from their doctor or local clinic directly from home.

After completing a quick intake, they will be connected to a provider through Hey Jane’s messaging platform, where they will be able to consult with clinicians via text, phone, or video.

“We have already earned the trust of tens of thousands of patients seeking medication abortions to help them with one of their most intimate health care needs, and are passionate about applying that same patient-centred approach to other equally important areas of reproductive health,” said Alyssa Wagner, Hey Jane’s medical director.

“We believe the best person to make decisions about their body is the patient themself. Our goal is to empower our patients with the knowledge and tools to prioritise their reproductive and sexual health and give them the support and prescriptions they need to do just that.”

The company says it is committed to making its services as safe, discreet and affordable as possible, partnering with select insurances for birth control and infection consultations and emergency contraception, as well as offering a sliding scale payment option for those paying out of pocket.

Kiki Freedman, co-founder and CEO of Hey Jane, said: “When we started Hey Jane, we were addressing one of the most critical health care needs: abortion.

“Along the way, we’ve listened to our patients and witnessed firsthand the deteriorating state of reproductive and sexual healthcare in our country.

“We knew it was time to help expand access to other crucial services while continuing to provide the care patients deserve.”

Hey Jane’s expansion of services is currently available in 11 states, with plans to launch in more states throughout 2023.

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Hormonal health

Femtech start-up OCON Healthcare reaches recruitment goal for study evaluating treatment for heavy menstrual bleeding

The company’s currently ongoing Phase IIb pre-pivotal clinical study assesses the safety and efficacy of the IUB™ SEAD

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OCON Healthcare, a women’s health company which develops, manufactures and commercialises an innovative 3D intrauterine drug delivery technology based on its patented IUB™ (Intra Uterine Ball) platform, has announced it had reached its recruitment goal of its Phase IIb clinical study evaluating its revolutionary IUB™ SEAD®, a non-invasive treatment for heavy menstrual bleeding.

OCON’s IUB™ SEAD is a disruptive non-invasive treatment for HMB, designed as an alternative to the traditional hormonal medication and/or aggressive and irreversible ablation procedures that are typically performed in the hospital, are non-reversible and remove the women’s chances for later pregnancy, requiring hysterectomy procedures in up to 25 per cent.

HMB is a prevalent medical condition affecting one in three women during reproductive age, causing heavy irregular bleeding from the uterus resulting in a significant decrease in their quality of life, fatigue, depression and can lead to iron deficiency, related anaemia and in acute and severe cases, can necessitate emergency medical care.

It is the fourth most common reason for an OB-GYN visit and has significant indirect costs associated with it, such as missed work or school days, decreased productivity, and increased healthcare utilisation.

Globally, the cost of HMB is estimated to be in the billions of dollars annually, highlighting the need for better solutions and management strategies for this condition.

“More women and doctors are looking today for innovative and simple solutions to treat HMB,” said Professor Sergio Haimovich, chief medical officer at OCON Healthcare.

“The IUB™ SEAD solves this medical condition with no need for irreversible ablation techniques or hysterectomies.

“This ground-breaking technology already made a positive impact on women’s lives and we are certain we will see more of it during our clinical studies in the near future.”

“The treatment with SEAD was so quick without any pain. It gave me my life back,” reported one SEAD study participant.

“I can finally leave the house without a second set of clothing after only one month.”

Keren Leshem, CEO at OCON Healthcare, added: “It breaks my heart to see so many women normalise and suffer, and even endure hospitalisation due to anaemia resulting from their heavy periods.

“It is incredibly rewarding to be part of a clinical study with one simple 30-minute procedure in the doctor’s office, that provides hope and relief to these women, and we will continue to strive towards improving their quality of life.”

The in-office procedure has been completed in over 35 women to date demonstrating safety, efficacy and significant reduction in bleeding without side effects, avoiding the need to undergo invasive uterine ablation procedures or even a hysterectomy.

Results from the company’s earlier PhIIa clinical trial showed significant reduction in bleeding of 83 per cent with 95 per cent reported quality of life satisfaction and mild pain scores (≤2 of 10).

As far as OCON is aware, the global HMB surgery market is expected to reach US$1.3bn by 2024, with 1.4 million women per year who report HMB.

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Hormonal health

US telehealth platform secures US$7m to ‘transform’ OB-GYN care

A telehealth approach could modernise OB-GYN services in the US where 75 per cent of women are dissatisfied with their care

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Tara Raffi and Carly Allen, Almond co-founders

The telehealth platform Almond has raised US$7m in seed funding to modernise obstetrical-gynaecological care.

Almond, a California-based women’s health company, aims to offer telehealth and flexible office visits on topics such as pregnancy planning, birth control counselling, infections, period management, sexual health and general wellness.

Evidence suggests that telehealth provides comparable health outcomes when compared with traditional methods of health care delivery without compromising the patient–physician relationship and could enhance patient satisfaction and improve patient engagement.

Obstetrician–gynaecologists and other physicians who practice telehealth have to make sure they have the necessary hardware, software and reliable, secure internet connections to ensure quality care and patient safety.

Adopting such an approach would modernise the OB-GYN care system in the US where 75 per cent of women are dissatisfied with their care, according to a 2020 report published in the Commonwealth Fund.

The specialty is the second-largest specialty by spend, right after primary care.

“The patient experience today is slow, it’s incomplete, and ultimately it’s delivering not great outcomes,” co-founder Tara Raffi, told TechCrunch.

“We are under-delivering as a country. Almond is coming in and modernising the OB-GYN office.”

Users will be able to purchase an annual subscription that will give them access to the company’s platform, care team and personalised plans.

Prior to the appointment, patients have to fill out a health questionnaire detailing the reasons for their visit. They also have the possibility of scheduling next-day telehealth appointments if they can’t attend in person.

The average cost for a general OB-GYN visit in the US can range anywhere from US$90 to US$500, according to UCLA Health.

Almond aims to make care more affordable and extend its services to include abortion and reproductive care, following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade in June.

“The overturning of Roe is a reminder that women still aren’t given the right to be decision-makers of their own bodies. That is infuriating,” said Raffi.

The round led by True Ventures will help the company grow the practices’ staff and develop and expand its platform.

Last month, the US telehealth platform Wisp also announced expanding its abortion care services, becoming the largest, most accessible medical abortion provider in the country.

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