All of us are very different biologically, and those of us who use birth control of any kind knows that better than anyone. Unfortunately, there is a lack of research when it comes to how different methods affect people, especially women.
The side effects of the pill, for instance, can vary from weight gain to mood swings to irreversible changes in your hormones. Meanwhile, medical professionals are not always as helpful as women want them to be. In fact, many women state that doctors ignore their complaints about pain and side effects. Some don’t even do the necessary assessment of what contraception method is best for them, pushing big pharma’s drugs instead.
The reasons for that range from negative cultural and societal perceptions of women (plain old sexism) to lack of education and simple knowledge-bias on the issues. As a result, there’s a prevalent lack of awareness about women’s health, suitable birth control methods, and their effect on the body. The startup, The Lowdown, aims to combat this and make contraception easier to choose, access, and use.
Getting the lowdown on contraceptives
The Lowdown is the world’s first contraception review platform launched in 2019. Like many women around the world, its founder Alice Pelton spent many years looking for a birth control method that didn’t negatively affect her mood. That’s what led her to set up this app. Dubbed as the “TripAdvisor, but for the pill,” the platform aims to address problems such as insufficient data on contraceptives and their effects, the need for better women’s healthcare and access, and lack of interest in developing new methods.
One function of The Lowdown is for users to leave reviews about their experiences with the birth control product they use. Currently, there are 15 methods from 48 brands that can be reviewed. The website asks questions about side effects and experiences and anonymously publishes the reviews for all users to see. The team then analyzes the data gathered through the reviews about the common side effects.
“Lots of women love reading and searching through other women’s experiences before choosing or changing to a different method or brand of contraception,” Pelton says. She further explains that “[their] data gives women an indication of how their contraception may positively or negatively impact their mood, skin and periods and so much more.”
Recommending the best for women
This tool’s availability can save women a lot of time usually spent on research and hunting data on what methods are best for them. The Lowdown’s Contraception Recommender tool asks the user a few questions and before matching them with the best choice based on their data. They can also get in touch with the users with recommendations and explain how to get started.
The Pill Switcher tool functions in a similar way. Once you answer the questions, you get a Prescription Request form in your inbox from The Lowdown. If you’re located in the UK and want your birth control delivered straight to your letterbox, you can complete it for £20 for a 3-month supply.
“It’s madness that women should have to waste so much time, money, and effort navigating this minefield in the 21st century – struggling to get Doctor’s appointments, taking mornings off work for them, or not being able to access the method or brand they want”, Pelton says. Indeed, if this service scales globally, it can lead to a massive reduction of the birth control stigma and more awareness around the world.
The Lowdown has also hired experienced medical professionals and launched an appointment service. For £30, you can discuss any contraception-related issues you want during a 20-minute phone call with one of the doctors on staff. According to the founder, they’ve been almost fully booked since the launch.
In the future, the team is hoping to scale the platform to address other aspects of women’s health and wellness. Likewise, we look forward to seeing what the team can create and how their data can help women in the UK and across the world. We’ve previously reported on alleviating menstrual cramps, so this would be a great addition to the progression of femtech. Ladies, if you love the idea of The Lowdown and other advances in the field, please let us know on social media.
Photo credit: The images used are owned by The Lowdown and were provided for press usage.
Source: Hallie Gould (Byrdie) / Gabrielle Jackson (The Guardian) / Katie Simon (The New York Times) / Zaria Gorvett (BBC.com)