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Hertility Health:
Welcome to the #ReProductiveRevolution

 
 
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Hertility Founding Team

CEO and Founder Dr. Helen O’Neill: has just been named one of the Founders Forum Rising Stars Of 2021. She is a lecturer in reproductive and molecular genetics and a leading expert in reproductive science. She has a Masters in Prenatal Genetics and Fetal Medicine and a PhD in Stem Cell Biology from UCL.

COO and co-founder Dr. Natalie Getreu: an ovarian biologist with expertise in bridging the gap between scientific discovery and clinical practice. She has a Masters in Reproductive Science and Women’s Health and a PhD in Fertility Preservation from UCL. Her research focuses on ovarian tissue freezing, which allows women facing cancer treatment to be able to preserve their fertility.

CCO and co-founder Deirdre O’Neill: a dual-qualified lawyer in England and Ireland and has worked in corporate law for a number of years. She has a Masters in Medical Law from King’s College London. Deirdre is head of corporate strategy and deals with legal, commercial, scaling, and business operations.

Hertility’s story and recent raise

“We live in a world where women are expected to be the boss, the breadwinner and the baby-maker. We are constantly balancing our travel goals, career goals and family forming goals - yet we are missing a crucial piece of information. We have no visibility into our reproductive health and fertility. We believe that in an age of knowledge, it is unacceptable to know so little about our health”

 - Dr Helen O’Neill, CEO and Founder of Hertility Health.
 

We founded Hertility Health because we believe that all women have a fundamental right to fast and affordable information, not just about their fertility but their overall reproductive health, so they can make informed life decisions when it matters, not when it’s too late. We are pioneering a more proactive approach to reproductive health, where we detect issues early and prevent invasive and costly treatments.

Welcome to the #ReProductiveRevolution.

The World Health Organisation defines “reproductive health” as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, in all matters relating to the reproductive system and to its functions and processes” - at Hertility, we treat the whole-person with tailored education, testing and treatment plans - across all reproductive life stages, from menstruation to menopause. We make women feel heard and give them trusted insights into their reproductive health.

Our flagship product is our “Hormone & Fertility Test” - an at-home hormone test tailored to your medical history, medication, symptoms and concerns. We believe in quick results and therefore have combined three doctors appointments in one to conduct a Fertility Triage consisting of:

  1. Virtual Health Assessment - this is an online questionnaire covering your medical history, medication, lifestyle factors, age, symptoms and concerns that replaces (and is much more comprehensive than) the initial consultation with a GP or reproductive health specialist
  2. At-home hormone test - delivered to your house in discreet packaging, simply prick your finger and send your sample to our lab
  3. Health Hub Dashboard - a reproductive health specialist analyses your blood results alongside your virtual health assessment answers to give a 360-degree view of your reproductive health with actionable next steps (if required).

Of course, we don’t believe in the “test without the rest” - we have a team of in-house consultants who specialise in fertility, pregnancy, endocrine disorders, gynaecology, PCOS, ovarian cancer, endometriosis and menopause who are able to diagnose, prescribe and treat. Think of it as a virtual OBGYN service - on-demand, whenever you need. We also have a nutritionist and a mental health counsellor on board so that every aspect of treating a condition is covered.  Further appointments for specialist investigations and treatments can also be booked quickly with our trusted partner clinics.

Early this year, we raised £4.2m in seed funding, led by LocalGlobe and Venrex, with angel investors including former CEO of Bupa, Evelyn Bourke, and CEO of Nested and GoCardless, Matt Robinson. Looking to the future, we look to further build out our education offering and care pathways.

Why test your hormones?

Your hormones carefully work together to coordinate functions throughout your body and when this system gets out of order it can have a big impact on every aspect of your health. Your hormones tell a lot about your overall health - in fact, leading experts consider our menstrual cycle to be the 6th vital sign alongside heart rate, pain, body temperature, blood pressure and respiratory rate.

The stigma around periods has led people to normalise symptoms such as heavy bleeding, irregular periods or mood swings as “women’s problems” - when these are not “normal” and might be indicative of an underlying health issue. This is backed up by data from our own community, as 50% of all the women who told us they were “experiencing symptoms” such as these had at least one abnormal hormone result, which indicated an underlying problem with their health.

What can an at-home hormone test tell you?

Our clinically validated at-home hormone tests give you insights on -

  • Why you are experiencing irregular periods or symptoms
  • Reasons why you may be struggling to get pregnant
  • Whether you have one of the 9 most common gynaecological conditions
  • Hormonal imbalances which might be impacting sleep, mood, energy or skin
  • Your ovarian reserve, AKA how many eggs you have left.

An at-home test allows you to take your health into your own hands, giving you quick answers. The blood test is only part of the equation and results which must then be interpreted alongside your medication, medical history and any symptoms you are experiencing. Our in-house clinicians  will then review your results alongside your virtual health assessment answers and provide you with expert advice, to ensure we give an accurate and actionable summary of your reproductive health.  

Fertility awareness and making informed decisions

At Hertility, we believe in educating women and providing them with the information necessary to make educated decisions with regards to their fertility and reproductive health. As the paradigm is shifting from an unspoken struggle to an open, honest conversation about fertility, we want to facilitate this growth.

As the average age at which individuals decide to have children rises and the global rate of infertility is steadily increasing, there is now an urgent need to ensure people are informed on how age impacts fertility. Women are born with all the eggs they will ever have and, whilst this number seems like a lot, the 1-2 million you’re born with decreases to about 400,000 at puberty. With every menstrual cycle, a woman loses on average 1,000 eggs (1 to ovulation and several others as part of natural processes). By the time a woman reaches menopause, there are only about 1,000 eggs left, and as we approach menopause the eggs become less and less likely to successfully make a baby. What is most shocking about this is that only around 400 eggs reach the stage at which they are mature enough to produce a baby during our lifetime. 

However, it isn’t just age that is able to affect fertility, lifestyle factors such as drinking alcohol, smoking, stress and eating an unbalanced diet can all affect the chances of conception.

Infertility is defined by the WHO as the “failure to achieve a pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse”. Not only is infertility impacted by age and lifestyle factors but several reproductive health conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), premature ovarian insufficiency (POI) and thyroid function disorders can also cause infertility. The statistics are shocking, showing us that 1 in 7 heterosexual couples experience infertility t, mostly due to reproductive conditions which were diagnosed too late. We took this as a call to action. The diagnostic capability of our test means that being aware of your fertility and overall hormone health has never been easier.

How to have workplace conversations about reproductive health?

Part of being a leading employer in the 21st century means providing your employees with not only the opportunity to investigate their hormone health but also the ability and tools to receive treatment and have an open discourse about the inevitable impact that a reproductive health condition, or infertility, has on both physical and mental wellbeing.  Data has shown a third of women have experienced at least one severe reproductive health symptom in the past year, however, only half of these women sought treatment and 59% lied to their boss about why they were absent from work (Public Health England, 2018). Therefore, having the infrastructure to discuss and educate about infertility or reproductive health in the workplace is essential for a supportive working environment.

  1. Create a safe space for sharing by listening and responding to queries with both an open mind and empathy.
  2. Provide opportunities for employees to have one on one conversations with their line managers.
  3. Respect that some people may not want to share or have reservations about sharing.  Look at your company’s language around fertility and current policies, are they inclusive enough? Do they only serve one family archetype?
  4. Normalise reproductive health conversations in the workplace. The easiest way to do this is by providing educational workshops and learning resources to increase both awareness and open up a channel for these conversations
  5. Educate yourself on your employee’s needs and priorities with regards to their reproductive health and wellbeing
  6. Streamline your employee’s ability to gain access to information about their reproductive health by providing a comprehensive reproductive health policy. 

What is next for Hertility?

Looking towards the future, Hertility aims to help even more women shorten their time to diagnosis using our diagnostic algorithm and hormone and fertility test. By refining our care pathways we aim to provide every woman with the tools they need to make informed decisions with regards to their reproductive health, throughout their life.

Menopause is a part of every woman’s life. In the UK alone there are 15.5 million perimenopausal and menopausal women. However, most of these women feel unable to access the support/care they need from their GP. We will be launching our menopause in the coming months to help bridge the gap in existing provision. The test will be able to determine menopausal status, how effective a HRT regimen is, a personalised risk index of the most common post-menopausal conditions and provide individuals with actionable insights to alleviate menopausal symptoms and improve overall health after menopause.



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