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Hormonal health

New film reframes the narrative on female bodies and hormonal changes

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Ooh, Someone’s Hormonal showcases the power of the female form and encourages women to embrace their hormonal changes.

Women’s health company, Hertility, has released an empowering film, created by female-founded creative content agency Be The Fox, as part of a digital brand campaign. The film, designed to spotlight gender bias in healthcare, aims to open up the conversation around hormones and to empower women to find out what is going on under their own skin.

The narration highlights how women have been excluded by science and dismissed by a healthcare system that does not understand the female body and its hormonal changes.

‘Being hormonal’ has often been a way to cast confusion and shame on women’s bodies. This new film, however, flips the narrative and aims to celebrate women and the things that allow them to live and create life.

“Our hormones control our lives and dictate our fertility, our weight, our sleep and our mood,” explains Dr Helen O’Neill, CEO and founder of Hertility. “We need to harness them, not harass women for simply being ‘hormonal’.

Ooh Someone’s Hormonal serves to elevate the voices of women who have been ignored and dismissed and empowers them to hear their hormones and take control of their health. We need to start listening to women when they know that something isn’t right. In the 21st century, it shouldn’t be a game of chance to find out if you are fertile.

“Equipping yourself with knowledge about your reproductive health and fertility can help you make informed decisions when it matters, not when it’s too late,” she adds.

Liz Unna and Laura Richards were behind the direction and production of the film, created by Be The Fox. West End and Film choreographer Lynne Page worked closely with Liz Unna to create a movement piece that interpreted the powerful script and women’s varying experiences throughout their lives. The diverse female-led team, bound by common experiences in the women’s health space, were united by the drive to work towards change for themselves, their daughters and all women.

Diana Ellis Hill, co-founder of Be The Fox says that: “When Hertility first came to us with the brief we knew immediately that we were all in. It was an incredibly positive experience working collaboratively on all elements, in the spirit of supporting other women.

“This is represented in the over 80% female crew who created a female-driven production that we are immensely proud of.”

Dr O’Neill believes that: “Women are seeking medical help to just be told to wait longer, to relax, to try not to worry, to take a new pill and this isn’t okay. We’re now calling time on this dismissive response to women’s reproductive health.”

Ooh Someone’s Hormonal is now available on YouTube.

Sorina Mihaila is the Femtech World editor, covering technology, research and innovation in women's health. Sorina is also a contributor for the neuro-rehabilitation magazine NR Times.

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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