Say what you will about the state of America at the dawn of 2020, but how great is it that—thanks to Thinx and Flex disks—period stains can be a thing of the past?
With the rise of the “femtech” industry (expected to reach $53 billion by 2027 in the U.S., according to Absolute Market Insights), a growing number of entrepreneurs are focused on solving pain points that until now came standard with having a uterus.
From PMS-relief treats to diagnostics tampons, here are eleven innovative tools that might just make it easier to be a woman right now.
The idea of reusable period underwear may sound icky at first, but many people have changed their minds since Thinx launched in 2011. With high absorbency, solid moisture- and smell-control, plus leak- and stain-fighting properties; these washable, sustainable underwear works as a comfortable alternative to pads and panty liners, or as a backup on heavier days. For beginners, the brand suggests starting with the Hiphugger, which absorbs double the amount of a regular tampon. Pricing starts at $24 (or $64 for a Back-to-Basics set).
As far as alternative period product goes, the Flex disc makes a compelling case—with strong absorbency for heavier days (one disc holds up to five tampons’ worth!), up to 12-hours’ use, pain relief, and promise for mess-free period sex. A subscription-based starter box goes for $13, complete with eight stretchy polymer discs plus detailed instructions on how to bend, insert and remove them.
One company is promising easier periods and fewer monthly hormonal fluctuations through a daily dose of seeds. The subscription service at Food Period, is based on the idea of balancing hormones through “seed cycling” — eating raw pumpkin, flax, sunflower, and sesame seeds at certain times of the month. A $75/monthly subscription includes 28 “Moon Bites” in flavors such as Chocolate cherry and Vanilla almond in phase one; Strawberry goji with chocolate chips and Carrot ginger in phase two. You won’t find many (if any) MDs endorsing this practice (and the brand says it generally takes three to six months for users to see improvements) but there isn’t any downside to snacking on tasty, seed-based treats.
Believe it or not, a used tampon can help you stay healthy. According to femtech startup NextGenJane, each used tampon holds valuable DNA and RNA information “of cells from the endometrium, cervix, fallopian tubes and ovaries,” which works as reproductive health assessment and illness detection. So to launch its first line of diagnostics tampons in 2020, the company is currently gathering clinical data from a wide range of volunteers. In other words, they’re collecting used tampons for analysis. Stay tuned!
Unfortunately, sex can literally be a pain—particularly for women who have Endometriosis, Adenomyosis, Pelvic floor dysfunction, Fibroids, Vaginismus, menopause, cancer treatments, and Vulvodynia, among other conditions. To tackle this, Ohnut came up with an intimate device ($55) that controls the depth of penetration. Made from FDA-approved material and free from BPA, phthalate, and latex, this stretchy, skin-like wearable works when you place it at the base of the penetrating partner’s shaft or toy, and pick the number of linking rings that let you achieve your desired depth.
Silent Breast Pump
For nursing mothers who are on the go, the silent breast pump by Elvie may be a godsend. It’s small, light, and fits comfortably in a nursing bra, so there are no tubes, wires, or noise to worry about. This wearable—which syncs with a free app—can track your pumping progress, stops when the bottle fills up, and auto-adjusts to a different mode when it senses let-down. Available in two sizes for $279 (single) and $499 (double), this rechargeable pump accommodates different breast shield sizes and intensity levels, plus comes with reusable bottles, among other tools.
Smart Kegel Trainers
You know the benefits of Kegels—less urinary incontinence, quicker post-birth recuperation, plus better sexual health and pleasure—but probably don’t know quite how to do them. Thankfully, Elvie (see above) also makes an award-winning Kegel trainer ($199) to make things easier. Clean, compact and water-resistant, this safe and easy-to-use trainer (yep, you put it up inside, down below) comes equipped with five-minute exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor. With real-time feedback and tracking functions for your long-term progress, this device (recommended by more than 1,000 health experts) offers close and clear monitoring to help improve your technique.
Alternatively, you can “play video games with your Kegels” through the Vagenie pelvic muscle trainer—a soon-to-be-released device and program that also provides biofeedback training, professional coaching, plus lots of motivation with virtual medals and graphs as you progress.
24/7 Virtual Clinic
Good healthcare shouldn’t be a luxury commodity. To make quality women’s health information accessible around the clock, Maven launched a virtual clinic featuring 1,700 carefully selected experts (think OB-Gyns, therapists, and nutritionists) spanning more than 20 departments. So whether you’re looking for guidance on egg freezing, breast milk delivery, surrogacy, and other women’s-slash-family health issues, there’s likely someone available to help through online messaging or video chat. Pricing varies, but it starts at $18 for a ten-minute video call with a nurse practitioner or midwife.
According to Posture Wings, the standard bra is “outdated” and bad for 80% of women today. So the company engineered a series of innovative wear geared for pain relief and improving posture—which comes with patented adjustable straps, side panel relieving pressure on the rib cage, a front-opening mechanism for extra ease, elongated shape for better support and slimming effect, plus soft and breathable fabrics. While there’s no word from the brand regarding the official launch date, production was expected to complete in September 2019.
If you believe prevention is the best medicine, then consider this tailored subscription (starting at $35 per month) featuring supplements for your needs. Created by BINTO—a company named with the acronym of Bun In The Oven—the focus is (not surprisingly) women’s health issues ranging from menstrual care to pre-and post-pregnancy support. Here’s how the service works: To start, each user will complete a health questionnaire, which determines the specific supplement needs. Then, a customized selection divided into daily portions will be sent. As a backup, BINTO also offers a “health professional” or “nurse” for further questions and supplement updates.
Conception Help, Delivered
Getting pregnant can be a stressful experience—especially for those dealing with infertility. So rather than poking around the drugstore shelves for things you may or may not need, here’s a tried-and-true pregnancy kit by Natalist—complete with a month’s supply of ovulation tests, pregnancy tests, prenatal vitamins, supplements and more—sent discreetly to you. Ordering this is extremely easy. For one-off buyers, a bundle costs $90. As for subscribers, you can pay $75 per month, and modify the frequency of the deliveries to sync with your cycle.
Will the gadgets, services and snacks included in this round-up truly help women’s health and wellbeing? In some cases it’s too soon to tell, but one thing is for certain: A larger focus on taking care of female bodies is promising for the decade ahead.
About the Author
Eustacia Huen is a seasoned lifestyle writer in English and Chinese who has contributed to publications including Forbes, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal Asia, and Popular Science.
This blog provides information about telemedicine, health and related subjects. The blog content and any linked materials herein are not intended to be, and should not be construed as a substitute for, medical or healthcare advice, diagnosis or treatment. Any reader or person with a medical concern should consult with an appropriately-licensed physician or other healthcare provider. This blog is provided purely for informational purposes. The views expressed herein are not sponsored by and do not represent the opinions of Nurx™.