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Women are using technology to fast-track birth control access


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Graphic: Well+Good

From cycle-tracking apps and birth control-delivery services to at-home STI testing, the reproductive health space is being disrupted by women-founded startups focused on getting health access into the hands of women—and out of the hands of politicians.

“Most key stakeholders at the helm of insurance companies, hospitals, government—even digital health companies—are men,” says Katherine Ryder, founder of the online health clinic Maven. “It’s starting to change now, which is really exciting. Creating a more equal system means bringing women’s health out of the shadows.”

The common (disruptive) denominator? They’re affordable services that don’t require health insurance.

Take Maven, whose digital-first approach provides around-the-clock access to health-care pros—without that interminable wait on the exam table. Meanwhile, Eve Kit and SmartJane allow you to screen for STIs (including HPV) from your own bathroom, and delivery services like Nurx and Prjkt Ruby bring birth control right to your doorstep. The common (disruptive) denominator? They’re affordable services that don’t require health insurance.

Tech is also getting smart about your period. Women’s health expert and Well+Good Council member Alisa Vitti’s period- and hormone-tracking app MyFLO shows you how getting in sync with your cycle can help you operate at peak levels all month long, allowing you to plan your productivity as well as your fertility. And in August, a new study found the contraceptive app Natural Cycles to be as effective at preventing pregnancy as the pill (when used correctly). NextGen Jane wants to get real up close and personal with your flow—it’s developing a “smart tampon” that aims to prevent disease by tracking your biological changes. “Women’s health is an area that’s had very little innovation,” says Cycles+Sex conference co-creator Lauren Bille. But with these new companies “it’s expanding, thriving, having a renaissance! Thank god,” says Bille. “Because we are way behind.”

What else is going to be huge next year? We’ve picked 18 for ’18—check out all of our Wellness Trend predictions here

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