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Telehealth abortion service expands across the US to allow people to have safe abortions at home

Remote services help people have an abortion where the medical procedure remains legal post Roe v Wade

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Wisp offers abortion pills via telehealth

A telehealth medical abortion service expands its offering in nine more states to allow people to complete safe abortions at home.

Wisp first launched abortion care in August in California and has now launched its telehealth services in Connecticut, New Mexico, ColoradoIllinoisMarylandMaineNew York and Washington. 

The sexual and reproductive health provider has became now the largest, most accessible medical abortion provider in the US.

The company offers abortion pills via telehealth because of new rules introduced by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) during the pandemic.

Prior to that, people had to see providers in person in order to get mifepristone, one of the two drugs used in a medical abortion.

However, the agency relaxed the rules early in the pandemic and lifted them last year.

With a shipping time of one to two business days, the telehealth provider offers services estimated to be 30 per cent less expensive than the national average cost of medical abortion. The treatment consists of oral medication to terminate a pregnancy.

Following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade, some states have banned telehealth services for abortions.

Services like Wisp help expand abortion access in places where the medical procedure is already legal.

“In the wake of the overturn of Roe v Wade, inequities in access to care have only deepened,” said Ahmad Bani, CEO of the company.

“By providing the most accessible abortion services in more states than ever, we’re able to help alleviate a stressed healthcare system and allow patients to take ownership of their reproductive health with privacy and respect.”

The new launch expands Wisp’s suite of specialised services for sexual and reproductive health, from emergency contraception and birth control to bacterial vaginosis and herpes.

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.

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Women in UK waiting almost nine years for endometriosis diagnosis, study shows

Getting a diagnosis for endometriosis in the UK now takes almost a year longer than before the pandemic

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Women in the UK are waiting nearly nine years for an endometriosis diagnosis, a new study has found.

The study by the charity Endometriosis UK revealed that getting a diagnosis for endometriosis in the UK now takes almost a year longer than before the pandemic.

The report showed that diagnosis times have significantly worsened over the last three years, increasing to an average of eight years and 10 months, an increase of 10 months since 2020.

This lengthy wait means a delay in accessing treatment, during which the disease may progress, leading to worsening physical symptoms and a risk of permanent organ damage.

“Taking almost nine years to get a diagnosis of endometriosis is unacceptable,” said Emma Cox, CEO of Endometriosis UK.

“Our finding that it now takes even longer to get a diagnosis of endometriosis must be a wake-up call to decision makers to stop minimising or ignoring the significant impact endometriosis can have on both physical and mental health.

“Now is the time to reverse the trend and make commitments to drive down diagnosis time for endometriosis and other menstrual health conditions.”

The research, based on a survey of 4,371 people who have received a diagnosis, found that 47 per cent of respondents had visited their GP 10 or more times with symptoms before being diagnosed, and 70 per cent had visited five times or more.

It showed that only 10 per cent of respondents reported that GPs mentioned they suspected endometriosis at either their first or second appointment where symptoms were discussed.

According to the report, more than half had visited A&E at least once and 17 per cent of those were referred to gynaecology at their first visit.

Around 78 per cent of people who later went on to receive a diagnosis of endometriosis had experienced one or more doctor telling them they were making a “fuss about nothing” or similar comments.

The report included examples of patients’ experiences, with many being told that their pain was “normal”. One woman said: “I was constantly dismissed, ignored and belittled by medical professionals telling me that my symptoms were simply due to stress and tiredness. I persevered for over 10 years desperate for help.”

Another said she had been told she was “being dramatic” after going to her GP as a teenager with painful periods. Another said: “A&E nurses told me that everyone has period pain so take paracetamol and go home.”

Endometriosis UK says, despite impacting 1.5 million across the UK, governments are failing to recognise the impact of endometriosis or allocate sufficient resources to diagnosing it.

The charity is calling on governments to commit a target of an average diagnosis time of a year or less by 2030 and urging NHS commissioners and providers to urgently reduce gynaecology waiting times.

In response to the report, Maria Caulfield, the minister for the women’s health strategy, said: “More must be done to improve women’s experiences of the healthcare system, and for those women suffering from endometriosis we have a long way to go. From getting an initial diagnosis to getting the right care and treatment, we must learn from this report.

“We launched our Women’s Health Strategy to do just this – listen to women. Endometriosis is a priority area within our strategy, so expect to see more in this space. In addition, we are rolling our women’s health hubs across the country to support more women with specialist care required with this condition.”

Ranee Thakar, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), added:“Endometriosis can have significant impacts on every aspect of women’s lives and timely diagnosis is crucial to ensuring that treatment and wider support can be in place to limit the progression of disease and manage symptoms.

“The barriers to timely diagnosis of endometriosis and other gynaecological health conditions are complex, but it is clear that more action is desperately needed.

“We need education and national communications campaigns to support women and girls to recognise their symptoms and feel confident seeking help. We need clinicians across the health service who listen to women and have the skills and expertise to diagnose and treat gynaecological conditions and we need investment in services to ensure that we have the right equipment and training for healthcare professionals to achieve timely diagnosis.”

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Over half of Australian women feel their pain is ignored or dismissed, report shows

New research from Nurofen reveals national gender pain gap in Australia

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Over half of women in Australia feel their pain is ignored or dismissed, a new report has shown, revealing the extent of the gender pain bias.

The report, based on a Nurofen survey of 2,040 Australian adults, revealed a national “gender pain gap” where over half (55 per cent) of women surveyed felt that they had had their pain ignored or dismissed compared to just 48 per cent of men.

It found almost a third of women (32 per cent) who felt their pain was ignored or dismissed believed this was because their GP did not take their pain seriously, compared to just one fifth of men (20 per cent).

Significantly more women than men surveyed also thought the reason they had not received a diagnosis yet for their pain or was taking longer to receive a diagnosis was due to the “gender pain gap”.

The research also showed pain is having a greater impact on women than on men. For example, for those who experience pain, 56 per cent of women report it has affected their mood in a negative way, compared with 42 per cent of men.

“Shining a light on the gender pain gap is crucial to closing it,” said Sarah White, CEO of Jean Hailes for Women’s Health.

“Research shows it’s taking women longer to get a diagnosis and treatment for their pain which is adversely impacting their lives. It is simply unacceptable that when some women are in pain they are not being provided the care they need when they need it, and prompt action is needed to change this.

“Now the issue has been highlighted on a national level, I am hopeful that a wider awareness and understanding will drive real change in how women’s pain is believed and treated.”

Nurofen has announced a series of commitments to help close the gap, including the launch of its “pain pass”, a free downloadable PDF tool aimed at helping people track and articulate their pain and symptoms.

Montse Pena, director of regulatory affairs and safety at Reckitt ANZ said: “I am very proud to be introducing the Nurofen Gender Pain Gap Index Report and to be putting tangible measures in place such as the pain pass to help close the gap.

“We are committed to delivering real changes that will help to improve women’s experience and treatment of pain, and welcome other organisations to join us in our mission.”

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Femtech must acknowledge the risk of perpetuating medical racism, say campaigners

Campaigners have warned that health tools could overlook women from marginalised communities

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Femtech must address medical racism, campaigners have warned, amid concern that the sector could be perpetuating long-standing racial inequities.

Femtech is already showing promise to help clinicians make better diagnoses and support women with managing their health.

But as excitement grows, campaigners have warned that these powerful tools could overlook women from marginalised communities and perpetuate long-standing racial inequities in how care is delivered.

“Any technology meant to help people track and improve women’s health outcomes must be inclusive and anti-racist,” Dr Regina Davis Moss, president and CEO of In Our Own Voice, told Femtech World.

“Black women have historically been disregarded, overlooked and undermined by the medical technology industry. It is past time for our interests and needs to be prioritised in clinical trials and other forms of scientific research.

“Femtech companies must ensure that their research and clinical trials equitably involve communities of all backgrounds.”

Around 2,000 femtech companies and apps have sprung up in the last decade to address women’s needs, including tracking apps, fertility solutions and menopause platforms.

These new tools are often built using machine learning, a subset of AI where algorithms are trained to find patterns in large data sets like billing information and test results.

The data these algorithms are built on, however, often reflect inequities and bias that have long plagued the healthcare system. Research shows clinicians often provide different care to white patients and patients of colour. Those differences in how patients are treated get immortalised in data, which are then used to train algorithms.

“When our research omits subsets of the population, the accuracy and potential benefits of that research do not extend to those who disproportionately bear the burden of disease,” said Dr Monique Gary, breast surgical oncologist at Grand View Health.

“We are seeing already how AI can harm marginalised communities, where biased algorithms require racial or ethnic minorities to be considerably ‘more ill’ than their white counterparts to receive the same diagnosis, treatment, or resource. This is perilous and avoidable.”

To create responsible and equitable technologies that include BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of colour) women, Gary said companies could start identifying and recruiting experts of colour, via pipeline programmes and incubators.

“We need to start listening to, believing and supporting the voices of Black women,” she said.

“In 2024, women of all ages and races, ethnicities and orientations are telling us out loud what they need to actualise a better version of healthcare which incorporates significant tech utilisation. It’s now up to us to listen.”

Ashley Jones, creative director of Tones of Melanin, said femtech must acknowledge the risk of perpetuating medical racism and prioritise inclusivity.

“Companies in femtech should actively seek out diverse perspectives and experiences, particularly from BIPOC women, in both their datasets and research.

“This includes collaborating with BIPOC brands, stakeholders and organisations to ensure that their products address the specific needs and concerns of BIPOC women.”

Tech developers, Jones said, could address racism by implementing robust diversity and inclusion initiatives within their teams, actively seeking out BIPOC voices in decision-making processes and educating themselves on the unique experiences of BIPOC women in healthcare.

Sylvia Kang, co-founder and CEO at Mira, pointed out that femtech companies should also focus on affordability, as cost can be preventing women from marginalised communities from accessing healthcare.

“Most of the people that can access femtech tools for their health are white mid-to-high income women,” Kang explained.

“Unfortunately, there are some communities, including BIPOC that do not have enough resources to purchase these tools.

“I believe it’s our responsibility to take action and democratise our data and tools in specific ways.”

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