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Flo launches initiative to improve menstrual and reproductive health literacy

Research points towards a dramatically low level of menstrual health literacy in developing countries



Low health literacy is a direct contributor to the spread of misinformation, research suggests

The period tracker Flo has launched a multi-year prosocial initiative aimed at improving menstrual and reproductive health literacy.

The company will grant access to its subscription membership, Flo Premium, including extended product and content features, to women in need across 58 countries.

Starting today, Flo will grant access to Flo Premium to millions of women in 21 countries such as Ethiopia, Cameroon, Haiti and Gabon with more to be announced in the future.

The countries were selected based on health literacy and health satisfaction rates data from the World Health Organization (WHO), GDP per capita rankings from the World Bank and other metrics.

WHO defines health literacy as an individual’s ability to adequately comprehend health information and to implement this knowledge into their everyday life in order to “maintain or improve quality of life.”

Low health literacy is a direct contributor to the spread of misinformation and can lead to poor health outcomes and unhealthy behaviours, especially in the areas of menstruation, sexual, and pregnancy health.

Existing research points towards a dramatically low level of menstrual health literacy and the dangers it may pose.

In Kenya, research found that only 12 per cent of girls felt comfortable discussing period management with their mothers, while one in four did not associate menstruation with pregnancy.

According to research by UNICEF and WaterAid, only 32 per cent of girls in Bangladesh, 66 per cent in Egypt and 18 per cent in Malawi, were aware of menstruation before their first period.

In Egypt, 74 per cent of girls who were unaware felt shocked, afraid or cried during the first occurrence. Similarly, in Bangladesh, 69 per cent felt scared.

However, having access to medically credible information is imperative for women to help them better understand their bodies, destigmatise taboo topics and improve their health literacy.

According to a Flo research study of over 2,000 users, 89 per cent of them reported that their knowledge about the menstrual cycle has improved after using the app, and 72.2 per cent of women said that Flo has helped them feel the most informed about their cycle and pregnancy health.

The study also found that users who subscribed to the premium version and used it regularly were more likely to report improvements in knowledge and health.

“At Flo, we’re building a better future for female health by helping women harness the power of their body signals,” said Cath Everett, VP of product and content.

“This is without a doubt one of the most important initiatives Flo has ever undertaken.

“When it comes to health, knowledge is power. We already know that Flo Premium improves attitudes towards health literacy among its users, so we believe that granting free access to Flo Premium can drive real-world impact on health literacy rates at scale.”

She added: “By offering Flo Premium to those who need it most, we hope to empower women and people who menstruate across the globe to better understand their bodies, advocate for their unique health needs and subsequently become the change makers in their respective countries.”

Flo will also launch a research study to assess how the use of its premium offering can improve menstrual health literacy and contribute to overall health and wellbeing.

The research will aim to shed light on disparities in health literacy and menstrual cycle stigma in these countries.

In March 2022, Flo made its premium subscription free for all Ukrainians in order to provide trusted health information and support during a time of overwhelming stress.

Since then, over one million Ukrainian users have activated their subscriptions.

Rachel McConnell, director of user experience, said: “We saw an overwhelming response when we rolled out free Flo Premium in Ukraine.

“Our community really welcomed this initiative, highlighting the importance of enabling access to trusted medical information in regions where it is acutely needed.

“That’s exactly what we aim to achieve with our new prosocial initiative, making medically credible information easily available to those who need it the most,” she added.

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Singapore-based fertility centre sets up grant for couples struggling to conceive

This grant aims to support eligible Singaporean couples facing financial and family planning challenges



A Singapore-based fertility centre is to set up a grant to support couples struggling to conceive.

Virtus Fertility Centre Singapore (VFCS) announced that it would set up a grant to support aspiring parents on their IVF journey.

The initial grant is set for at $50,000 SGD and, depending on the take-up rate over the next 12 fiscal months, VFCS plans to increase the pool to benefit more couples in the subsequent years.

The grant will cover the main costs associated with IVF treatments and procedures, including embryo retrieval and transfer, laboratory services and embryo prep. It will also be applicable to fresh and frozen egg transfers.

As grant recipients, their samples will similarly be given a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag, a service VFCS provides for all its patients. It locks the patient’s identity with the respective sample. The RFID identifies gametes—eggs, sperms, or embryos—at every stage of the IVF treatment.

According to VFCS, the grant will also include access to counselling services and wellness resources.

“I’ve witnessed firsthand the emotional toll and occasional frustration that infertility can take on individuals and couples, especially for some who are still young and healthy,” said Dr Roland Chieng, medical director at VFCS.

“The common deterrent of going for fertility treatment is always associated with the cost, more so in a private care setting where their only source of funds is through Medisave.

“By alleviating their financial concerns, we hope ReadyBaby Fertility Grant empowers patients to approach their IVF journey, focusing on their clinical needs and working towards a healthy pregnancy and less on financials.

“With access to the necessary treatments and support, patients can embark on their path to parenthood with renewed confidence, knowing they have the clinical resources and guidance they need to navigate this journey,” he added.

Tim Kwan, VFCS’s managing director, said: “We believe every couple deserves the opportunity to experience the profound joy of parenthood.

“With the ReadyBaby Fertility Grant, we aim to support aspiring couples on their IVF journey and help them bring new life into the world.”

To be eligible for the grant, applicants must be married Singaporean couples diagnosed with medical infertility by a fertility specialist and first-time parents who have not tried IVF before.

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Canadian insurer launches partnership to support women’s health

Members of the Canadian insurer Medavie Blue Cross will have access to a dedicated women’s health platform



Angela Johnson, co-founder and CEO of sanoLiving

The Canadian insurer Medavie Blue Cross (MBC) has partnered with the virtual health platform sanoLiving to support women on their menopause journey.

Currently, more than 10 million Canadian women are navigating menopause, often with little support and misinformation about treatments.

With sanoMidLife, sanoLiving’s online menopause platform, Medavie Blue Cross members will have access to a national women’s health platform tailored to provide care and services for women going through the menopause.

The service includes personalised assessments, access to clinicians, treatments, educational content, peer support and AI assistance.

“Many women lack support for their menopause transition due to the misunderstandings of what is ‘normal’ and misinformation about treatments,” said Angela Johnson, co-founder and CEO of sanoLiving.

“Women are seeking solutions that allow them to thrive during midlife. We are thrilled about our alliance with Medavie Blue Cross, and our shared commitment to providing access to care that empowers women.”

Anita Swamy, senior vice president operations at Medavie Blue Cross, added: “We’ve heard first-hand from our members about the need for more menopause-related services.

“Our partnership with sanoLiving creates an innovative way to increase access to care for our members as we continue to focus on the support women need to navigate their benefits and provide forward-thinking options to support their health.”

Studies report one in 10 women exit the workforce due to unmanaged symptoms. Early onset of menopause and symptoms before age 45 can elevate the risk of health issues like heart disease, diabetes, dementia and osteoporosis.

With this new service, Medavie Blue Cross and sanoLiving are aiming to open up the conversation around menopause, reduce stigma and work towards giving women the access to the care they need.

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US start-up raises US$2.32m to address pelvic health concerns

The Flyte intravaginal device aims to treat stress urinary incontinence and strengthen pelvic floor muscles



The US women’s health start-up Pelvital has raised US$2.32m in funding to address “unanswered” pelvic health issues.

Minnesota-based Pelvital aims to restore pelvic health with its first product Flyte, an FDA-cleared intravaginal treatment for stress urinary incontinence (SUI) and weakened pelvic floor muscles.

The device, originally developed by physicians from the Arctic University of Norway, uses mechanotherapy, a treatment modality that when paired with an active pelvic floor contraction stimulates tissue regeneration and the creation of neuromuscular memory.

The company will use the funding to speed up the commercialisation of Flyte and raise awareness of pelvic health issues.

“Completing this round is an important step in continuing Pelvital’s unwavering dedication to provide women with innovative solutions for pelvic health, including the treatment of SUI,” said Lydia Zeller, president and CEO of Pelvital.

“This funding will play a crucial role in accelerating our commercialisation of Flyte with a strong emphasis on expanding payor coverage and enhancing clinical education and clinician awareness.”

With this final close, Zeller said, Pelvital would welcome new investors including Pier 70 Ventures, Life Science Angels, Tech Coast Angels Orange County, and Blue Pacific Fund.

Preetha Ram, managing partner at Pier 70 Ventures, would join the Pelvital board of directors.

“Joining Pelvital’s board alongside this investment round is truly an honour,” Ram shared.

“Pier 70 and I are thrilled to be part of this transformational opportunity, as Pelvital’s mission aligns beautifully with our dedication to support disruptive technologies that shake up the status quo in healthcare.

“Pelvital’s pioneering work is shaping a future where women’s health receives the attention and innovation it deserves with novel medical devices like Flyte.”

Oscar Moralez, founder and managing partner of Boomerang Ventures who led the investment round, said: “We are thrilled for the successful completion of this round as we aim to tackle the most pressing healthcare challenges.

“Our participation aims to address the chronic underfunding in women’s healthcare. Investing in Flyte, a truly groundbreaking treatment, addresses underserved pelvic health issues like SUI and contributes to raising vital awareness.”

Two published clinical trials have validated Flyte’s safety, efficacy and durability of treatment effect for women with SUI.

Most recently Pelvital published a paper in Therapeutic Advances in Urology, showing that 71 per cent of study participants achieved dry or near dry conditions as evidenced by a reduction in 24-hour pad weight after using Flyte for between two and 12 weeks.

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