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‘Sex is something that’s essential to life’

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FemTech World meets Georgia Di Mattos and Bianca Dunne, founders of iPlaySafe, to discuss sexual wellness and health.

Tell us about iPlaySafe in a nutshell

Georgia: iPlaySafe App is a new medical platform that allows users to get tested and importantly share their sexual health status with others in a simple and anonymous way. 

All users have to do is download the app on their phone, and purchase an iPlaySafe Box.  This is an at-home self testing kit to use and test for the six most common and infectious STIs (Clamydia, Gonorrhea, HIV, Syphilis, Hepatits B and C) via blood and urine samples, before sending in a pre-paid envelope and receiving the results within two to five working days. 

We wanted to create a safer physical and digital environment for individuals of all ages and wider communities to get tested discreetly and conveniently and to share their statuses in a fun and sexy way.

What have you achieved and what do you want to achieve with iPlaySafe?

Bianca: We’re working with a new and established lab, called PreventX, which will help us roll out our app to more consumers in the UK and also in Europe as it has presence in a couple of cities. We are also in discussion with other medical partners which could be a game changer in making sexual health testing more accessible, so watch this space!

Georgia: We also have a number of exciting conversations on the table with some well known dating apps and community based platforms which we hope to integrate with. We don’t want to be seen as a competitor to other dating apps out there, but more of a solution, to help those who are actively dating, meeting new people and practicing sex – to make sure they do it healthily. Normalising online testing and sexual health testing is a huge focus for us.

What benefits can iPlaysafe have for women’s health?

Bianca: An incredible amount. The number of men, women, all genders who may not know that they have an STI is incredibly high. The number of STIs contracted daily continues to rise and with sexual health/testing being a taboo, it’s very dangerous for people not getting tested. Some STIs such as chlamydia, if untreated, can lead to further health scares and infertility down the line so it’s of paramount importance that people are getting tested proactively – rather than reactively so as to detect any mishaps right away.

Why is important for Femtech to focus on sexual health?

Georgia: Sexual wellness has gone a long way in terms of tech and tech advancements. Vibrators of course are an obvious offering within this, but integrating technology into testing and sexual health testing itself is something that’s so important and we hope will really be a game changer.

Further down the line, it would be amazing if we could use FemTech to not only help with just sexual health testing but things like cervical smear testing – as again, these are things that are avoided by so many women and those who have vulvas. 

We are hoping that by integrating and incorporating tech into testing today, we can help a greater number of people focus on their sexual health and do more proactively and regularly.

What should change about sexual health education?

Bianca: Thankfully, there have been improvements in the world of sexual wellness. However, we are conscious that there is a still significant gap in the world today when it comes to our sexual health.

Without at-home testing services, it’s so difficult and inconvenient for people to get tested – it should become a normal, consistent thing that we all do regularly. That’s a huge goal of ours – by challenging the space and helping normalise testing, we want sexual health screening to be a fundamental and legal requirement for everyone to do.

Why do you think sexual health is still considered a taboo?

Bianca: Sadly, when most people today think of STIs and sexual health infections, they automatically think ‘that’s dirty, that’s disgusting’ – whereas, if you really think about it there’s not much difference in catching a cold from somewhere. Sex is something that’s essential to life. We all have it. We all want to maintain healthy lives – which is why we brush our teeth, we go to the doctors, we practice yoga – so why not consider sex and getting our sexual health tested the same proactive action to take to stay healthy?

What do you see in the future of iPlaySafe?

Georgia: We’re ambitious but we know we can make our dreams a reality. 

Firstly, when it comes to sexual health, we want to work with more reputable partners that will really help us normalise testing, making it easier and more cost effective for people of all demographics, ages, and lifestyle to get tested. 

The dating world is another huge element that we want to improve. By integrating with dating apps, we’re making the dating world safer for those practising sex. 

We know we’ve got a long way to go in ensuring our app meets the needs of all and the industry too, but it’s a hugely exciting place and it’s going to be a game changer!

Q&A

#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

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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

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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

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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.

(more…)

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