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What is endometriosis: Q&A with Endometriosis UK



To mark Endometriosis Awareness Month, we sat down with the charity Endometriosis UK to discuss the invisible illness that affects 1.5 million women in the UK.   

  • What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a menstrual health condition affecting one in ten women and those assigned female at birth. The disease occurs when cells similar to those lining the womb are found elsewhere in the body. These cells behave like those in the womb building up, breaking down and bleeding, but unlike a period, the blood has nowhere to go. This can cause inflammation, pain and the development of scar tissue.

  • What are the symptoms of endometriosis? 

Common signs and symptoms of endometriosis include painful periods, chronic pelvic pain, pain on urination and bowel movements, fatigue and difficulties getting pregnant.

  • Why are these symptoms often ignored?

Symptoms are normalised as being “part of being a woman” or “just a bad period” and pain is dismissed as “you may have a low pain threshold”.

  • In the UK it takes approximately eight years to get a diagnosis of endometriosis. Why does it take so long?

There are a number of barriers that arise that contribute to this. Firstly, awareness of endometriosis is still too low, although improving, so someone with symptoms may not realise they have a medical problem and they don’t seek help.

Secondly, when symptoms are discussed with friends and family, they too might lack awareness and normalise the symptoms as “just a bad period”.

Thirdly, when someone with symptoms of endometriosis goes to their GP, they may have their pain and symptoms dismissed “you must have a low pain threshold” or not taken seriously.

In addition, some of the symptoms for endometriosis also occur with other conditions, so for example we know of women who were initially wrongly diagnosed with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and later had endometriosis diagnosed.

Endometriosis UK has information on its website about getting diagnosed and advice on how to prepare for going to see your GP when you think you may have endometriosis.

  • How does the lack of research contribute to the hidden suffering of millions of women?

The historical lack of research into endometriosis means the cause has not yet been identified and there is no cure. There are treatments to manage the symptoms of endometriosis including hormonal treatment, surgery and painkillers, but unfortunately, they don’t work for everyone with the condition. Greater investment in research could help identify the cause and develop better treatments and hopefully one day a cure.

With the help of our volunteers, we raise awareness of endometriosis, and the issues that affect those living with it, among healthcare professionals, those with endometriosis and their families and colleagues, the public and the media. By developing clear policies, Endometriosis UK aims to influence national governments and healthcare providers to achieve the standards of care and treatment that those with endometriosis deserve.

  • How can the government help?

In the UK, there is national guidance on the diagnosis and management of endometriosis from the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE). All UK governments should ensure that NICE guidance is fully implemented in their respective healthcare systems and that steps are taken to measure and meet the demand for endometriosis care.

In Scotland, a women’s health plan was published last year which commits to doing this and work is underway on implementing the commitments made. In England, a women’s health strategy is currently in development and Endometriosis UK has asked the Department of Health and Social Care to commit to doing this.

The Welsh Government has just begun to develop a women’s health plan for  Wales and Endometriosis UK has been involved in a coalition of charities which is preparing a proposal women’s health which addresses endometriosis and will be presented to the Welsh Government later this year.

During the recent Endometriosis Action Month, Endometriosis UK launched a campaign to improve endometriosis care in the UK by asking for the NICE guideline on endometriosis diagnosis and management to be reviewed and updated. This is because, while the guideline was a step forward in endometriosis care, there are some important gaps including access to pain management, endometriosis outside the pelvic cavity and mental health support.

A new European (ESHRE) guideline on endometriosis also came out in February 2022 which includes new recommendations not covered by the NICE guideline, which was published in 2017.

For more information and support visit Endometriosis UK.

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.


#FromBerlinWithSolidarity: period tracking app Clue on reproductive rights and data privacy

Femtech World sat down with Clue chief product officer, Rhiannon White, to find out more about the company’s latest campaign



To mark the one-year anniversary of the overturning of Roe v Wade, the German period tracking app Clue has launched a powerful campaign.

From Berlin With Solidarity, a passion project by American Clue users and advertising creatives Amy Char, Heather Patterson, and Ashley Milhollin, aimed to bring attention to the very real fear of reproductive surveillance faced by women in US states where the loss of reproductive rights means people are afraid their health data could be used to prosecute them for seeking abortion.

The campaign, which featured bold billboards in the US and humorous posters in Berlin, was, in co-CEO Audrey Tsang’s words, directed at sparking a conversation about the importance of privacy rights for equal healthcare.

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The AI start-up on a mission to democratise IVF



Daniella Gilboa, co-founder and CEO of AIVF
One in six people experience infertility globally, according to the World Health Organization. However, many couples are still unable to afford treatment. Daniella Gilboa, co-founder and CEO of the Israeli fertility start-up AIVF, tells us how AI could democratise IVF and increase access to affordable, high-quality fertility care for those struggling to conceive.


What is AIVF?

AIVF is an Israeli reproductive technology company transforming the fertility journey to be intelligent, accessible, and full of hope.

Based on scientific research and driven by real-world clinical use, AIVF developed a proprietary Fertility Operating System with automated embryo evaluation and deep learning algorithms to optimize clinical processes and improve patient outcomes.

Our solution, EMA, addresses two unmet needs in fertility. First, AI capabilities assist embryologists in their embryo evaluation, instantly identifying what the human eye cannot detect alone.

Second, with the integration of platforms, our single dashboard system streamlines all data in one place. From patient records to personalised embryo analytics, our platform connects the patient, lab, and clinic all in one place.

What is the story behind your company?

While writing my Ph.D. dissertation, it was suggested that my thesis could be a start-up. This field attracted me immediately. I believe being an embryologist is the most fantastic job in the world —using expertise to support individuals and families in bringing life into the world and homes.

While passionate about being an embryologist, I realised the more significant impact I could make is combining this with my previous experience using complex data to solve problems.

Knowing this field’s “ins and outs” made me realise there had been no significant progress and a lack of innovation for decades. I decided to jump right in, knowing I could make a difference for the better.

The move from embryologist to CEO of a start-up was a huge step, and I am constantly learning. My passion for helping bring children into the world remains the same. It’s my greater obligation to the world around me to create the next generation of IVF for clinicians, embryologists, and, most importantly, patients.

What makes your technology different?

The AIVF software algorithm was developed using hundreds of thousands of images and videos of embryos tagged with successful conception and leading to a normal pregnancy.

Currently, the programme can independently identify the embryos with the highest chances of developing into normal pregnancy.

The software AIVF developed identifies biological processes the human eye can’t detect. For example, the technology can spot mitochondrial ‘energy action’ directly linked to the embryo’s collapse or chances of implantation.

Unlike most deep learning algorithms, the AIVF platform identifies the patterns driving its actions and can explain its decisions.

It will mark, for example, that it has given a low score to a specific embryo due to disruptions or disorders found during its development, a different behavioural pattern at the cell division stage, or abnormal morphological appearance such as fractures.

How would your technology change the patient experience and fertility care more broadly?

On average, the IVF journey takes four years, seven cycles, and three miscarriages, costing an average of US$12,000 per IVF round.

By improving the embryologist’s capabilities in selecting the most viable embryo, there is potential for AI to help a patient conceive in one or two cycles. Our technology aims to minimise IVF’s financial and emotional costs by reducing the cost and time spent.

Additionally, our technology aims to add transparency to each patient’s IVF journey. While patients can access more information than ever, they make decisions based on a leaflet in the doctor’s office or a quick internet search.

Individuals need friendly and professional guidance to help them understand their journey’s complexities. Our integrated platform provides a window into the IVF lab and personalised analytics that help patients understand each step of the journey.

Where are you with the business now?

We are integrated with Southeast Asia, South America, North America, and Europe fertility clinics. So far, studies from our European clinics show that the platform has demonstrated a 70 per cent probability of success for embryos with a high EMA score.

The clinical studies also showed that EMA improved embryologists’ accuracy by 38 per cent and reduced the number of cycles to achieve pregnancy by 21.5 per cent on average. By improving embryologists’ accuracy, AIVF saves both time and money in the fertility journey.

What are your goals for this year?

IVF is one of the most important medical innovations in the last 50 years. Yet, the legacy technology used today in clinics can’t serve the 25 million women in the US who have limited or no access to fertility care.

At AIVF, we aim to use technology to make IVF efficient, accurate, and accessible to all who wish to grow their families.

Where do you see AIVF in five years?

Embryo evaluation using AI will democratise IVF by increasing access across underserved groups. More specifically, it will facilitate reduced costs by optimising our labour, laboratory performance, shorter time to a healthy, live birth of a singleton, and reduced failed cycles by not transferring embryos with a low chance of implantation (deselected embryos).

The promise of AI mitigated freedom for the computational embryologist is not just a new toolkit. It is the democratisation of high-quality IVF services. We call it IVF 3.0.

As we integrate AI technology into IVF practices and our work as embryologists and clinicians, the goals should remain the same: minimise costs and patient drop-out due to stress and financial fatigue while ensuring the highest quality patient care.


Daniella Gilboa is the co-founder and CEO of the AI technology start-up AIVF. As an IVF researcher, she is dedicated to advancing the science of using machine learning to optimise IVF processes. Gilboa is committed to driving the next generation of IVF technology and increase pregnancy success rates.

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The founder on a mission to help women find the perfect-fitting bra



Valentina Biglia, founder and CEO at FindYourBra

When Valentina Biglia launched FindYourBra she had one mission in mind: to change the way women shop for bras. Driven by her grandmother’s battle with breast cancer, she set about creating a unique platform that would not only redefine women’s shopping experience but assist them with finding the perfect-fitting bra. She tells us all about it below.


Can you tell us a bit more about your background?

I studied product design at the Politecnico of Turin, Italy. The idea of creating things from scratch has always fascinated me. Beauty and harmony are two characteristics that I seek and pursue.

I did a master’s degree in advanced interior design for commercial spaces at the IED in Barcelona. Products, fashion and the user experience in shopping are something I have always been passionate about, just as I am interested in philosophy, psychology and anthropology.

I studied gestalt, a branch of psychology, to better understand the behavioural patterns of human beings.

During my professional experience I had a parenthesis where I trained and worked as a bra fitter in a specialised lingerie shop in Barcelona. This experience changed my life and led me to founding FindYourBra.

What inspired you to create FindYourBra?

There are three main things that inspired me to create FindYourBra: firstly my personal experience with my body. I have never been satisfied with it, in particular with my breasts. I thought they were a “problem” until I found the right bra size.

On the other hand, I saw how finding the right bra size immediately changed the expression on the face of the people I was serving in the fitting rooms of the bra shop. At the same time I understood that the user experience was quite poor that any comment or look could create a trauma for them and that at that moment their self-esteem was at stake.

And, third reason, certainly not because of importance, is because of my grandmother. She has fought breast cancer twice, she has come out the winner again in November 2022.

She has been hiding her breasts every day for the last 30 years, fixing the breast asymmetry with socks stuffed with rice. She and other women like her inspire me every day to create a solution to help them get their lives back as soon as possible.

How would you describe your innovation in a few words?

The easiest, fastest and more intuitive way to buy bras online that suits you in total privacy and autonomy. A selection based on you, your measurements – taken with our patented measurement system – needs and preferences that changes as you changes.

No barriers, No measurements, No conversions, No size charts: just buy what fits to feel supported, comfortable and beautiful.


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