These innovations are taking women's health care to places it's never been.
Birth Control Delivery Service
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With news that the Senate and House have taken the first steps toward repealing the Affordable Care Act—a bill that most likely includes a provision stripping Planned Parenthood of funding—it's easy to get discouraged about the state of women's health care. (Learn more about all the ways Donald Trump's presidency could affect women's health.) But while the recent headlines may be worrisome, there are brilliant things happening behind the scenes—new technologies, better methods of communication, and innovations that are taking women's health care to places it's never been. First up...
San Francisco–based start-up Nurx is the birth control delivery service you never knew you needed. Available in seven states (CA, NY, DC, WA, IL, VA, and PA), the mobile platform pairs you with a certified physician who is credentialed to write you a prescription for birth control in your state—with or without insurance. HIPAA compliant, the company promises to safeguard your information and offers automatic refills when you need them. The best part? They deliver it to your door.
Photo: Hero Images/Getty Images
Blood Test for Endometriosis
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Extreme pelvic pain can be life-altering, but the inability to diagnose it can be even worse. No one understands this better than women suffering from endometriosis, a disorder that causes the lining of the uterus to grow outside of it, resulting in chronic—often debilitating—pelvic pain. (Lena Dunham and Daisy Ridley both suffer from the condition.) As of today, the only way to diagnose the condition is through a laparoscopic surgery, a procedure which is both invasive and costly. This year, a San Francisco start-up plans to fix that. Dot Laboratories, billed as "the women's health diagnostics company," is launching a simple blood test that could diagnose the disease in minutes, allowing women both the peace of mind of knowing the source of their pain, and a road map for how to treat it.
Photo: Tek Image/Getty Images
At-Home Pap Smear
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Going to the doctor to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases and infections can be a headache. With the decreasing number of ob-gyns nationwide, it's an issue that's bound to get worse. But getting tested is extremely important. Left untreated, STDs like human papillomavirus can be life-threatening (doctors have linked it to both cervical and throat cancer). Luckily Jessica Ching and her Ontario-based company Eve Medical have a solution. Motivated by the knowledge that more than 1 million STIs are transmitted each day, Ching created an at-home STD/STI test for women, called HerSwab. Small and discreet, it can be ordered online and taken at home, then sent back to get results.
Photo: Eve Medical
Saliva Ovulation Test
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KNOWHEN is the first laboratory-quality saliva ovulation test, which founder Helen Denise says answers "important questions about the secret and unique fertility code of a woman's body." Through a drop of saliva, it helps track the best days in your ovulation cycle, so you can either increase or decrease your odds of conceiving. The product is cleared by the FDA and reusable, so it won't break the bank.
All-Digital Women's Health Clinic
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Ranked one of the Top 10 Innovations That Made Women's Lives Better In 2016 by Fast Company, the all-digital women's health clinic Maven is being referred to by some women as the best health care experience they have ever had. Sleek and easy to navigate, the site allows women to video chat with a variety of specialists, from a nurse practitioner and midwife to a real doctor who can talk through whatever issues have come up. With prices ranging from $18 for a 10-minute appointment to $70 for a 40-minute chat, it gives women the opportunity to talk to someone about their health in an easy-to-use and private format.
Database of Health Care Providers for Transgender People
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Like the homepage of mytranshealth.com says, finding a doctor as a trans person can be immensely frustrating. A study by the National LGBTQ Task Force (as Business Insider reported) estimated that one in four transgender people put off getting medical care due to discrimination. That's where this database comes in. Started by Robyn Kanner and three of her friends (all four of whom identify as transgender), the website ask individuals how they identify their gender and where they live, then pairs them with doctors in their area who are not only educated on trans issues, but have a nondiscrimination policy. With the LGBT community now officially recognized as a health disparity population by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), this service couldn't come soon enough.