Femtech startup Evvy launches new platform to fill gender research gap, provide precision health for women

When asked about why experts can’t nail down the health implications of the vaginal biome or the effects of vaginal douching or why the prevalence of bacterial vaginosis is underplayed, Priyanka Jain, CEO and co-founder of Evvy, has the same answer: “Another gender health research gap.”

Evvy launched its Vaginal Health Test in 2021 and is now expanding its platform to bridge the research and medical care gap for women. The Evvy platform now offers end-to-end care, including physician-reviewed results and personalized prescription treatment programs integrated with its Vaginal Health Test. The company also provides virtual health coaches to ensure that in the void left from a lack of research and education, patients can better understand their bodies.

“This is what we are so passionate about: Giving people access to the information, giving them access to better care,” Jain told Fierce Healthcare. “We are reinventing the standard of care, rethinking what the diagnoses are, what treatments work for which people, is there a different definition of healthy for people from different backgrounds? And what does that look like? There are so many questions that you just can't answer without the data and we are very much leveraging our data to get to the answers.”

While women visit the doctor 33% more often than men, only 4% of overall funding for research and development for healthcare products and services goes to women’s health. Evvy is hoping to provide precision medicine while leveraging its own data to increase understanding of the vaginal biome.

Patients can be referred to Evvy by their primary care physicians or ob-gyn. They can also seek the provider out directly. Pita Navarro, the company's head of clinical research and operations, told Fierce Healthcare that people who seek out Evvy on their own have often experienced repeat infections and have “gone off the healthcare system.”

Jain also said a large portion of respondents are experiencing menopause and unable to find answers as to how to address changes in vaginal odor.

If left untreated, bacterial vaginosis can lead to increased risk of acquiring sexually transmitted infections, early delivery in pregnancy and infertility.

Patients can order a single test to get a snapshot of their vaginal microbiome for $129 or become an Evvy member and pay $99 a test for four annual tests. Patients receive one-on-one virtual coaching sessions with each test and the capability to track changes over time through the platform. For each test revealing a vagina in dysbiosis, Evvy physicians design a treatment plan including supplements or medications for patients along with two calls with a certified health coach.

Within two months of using the system, 83% of participants went from dysbiosis to a healthy microbiome, 96% said their treatments were effective and 100% said their symptoms improved, an Evvy IRB-approved study found.

"As an ob-gyn, I know how frustrating it is for both patients and clinicians to lack access to effective testing and treatments," said Rebecca Nelken, M.D., founding physician at Evvy, in a press release. "Evvy's new care platform is revolutionary, and I am thrilled that patients across the country will finally have access to the best in class testing, holistic treatments and empathetic support they deserve."

While the vagina is a self-cleaning organ, external forces can create a change in pH balance.

Once bacterium takes advantage of a new environment, bacterial vaginosis can set in and patients can experience changes like increased vaginal discharge or change in odor. Vaginal discomfort including these symptoms is one of the most common reasons women seek healthcare advice. A whopping 90% of these cases can be traced back to an imbalance in the vaginal microbiome.

Often the overgrowth of bacteria is met with the brute force of antibiotics. The use of oral antibiotics leads to yeast infections 10% to 30% of the time.

“What's wild to me is that the way we treat it is that we throw an antibiotic at it and then we pray that something different grows back like, ‘Please give me different microbes this time,’ which obviously is not what happens the majority of the time,” Navarro said. “Over 50% of these infections recur within nine months so many people with vaginas end up in the cycle.”

Evvy’s system designs antibiotics to reflect a patient’s microbiome along with providing supplements that help grow healthy bacteria in order to avoid the cycle of destroying good bacteria and building it back up.

Evvy's novel platform was one of several femtech startups honored at Fast Company's 2022 World Changing Ideas awards. The overall femtech market was worth $51 billion as of 2021 and is forecasted to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 8.1% from 2022 to 2030. By 2030, the market is expected to reach $103 billion.