Fertility monitoring has seen an explosion of startup exercise lately. Femtech startup Girl Applied sciences is including to this wealthy combine with the complete U.S. launch of a dual-purpose machine, known as kegg, that’s designed to measure hormonal adjustments in a girl’s cervical fluid to assist her decide the prospect of conception on a given day.
The egg-shaped gizmo, which includes a gold-plated metal cap and band ringing its tip, in addition to a silicone tail to accommodate its Bluetooth radio (so it could chat to the companion app), doubles as a linked pelvic flooring coach (the ‘ok’ in kegg is for ‘kegels’) — taking a leaf out of UK femtech pioneer Elvie’s playbook. Although the two-in-one operate is a brand new twist.
Kegg depends on a know-how known as impedance to sense electrolyte ranges in a girl’s cervical fluid in an effort to detect the hormonal change from estrogen to progesterone dominance that accompanies ovulation — through a day by day take a look at that’s touted as taking simply two minutes. (In the event you’re additionally utilizing it for the non-compulsory kegal workout routines that will take a bit longer.)
“A minute electrical impulse at a selected frequency is emitted from the gold plated electrodes on the kegg and obtained by the opposite (this course of is then reversed). By sensing the altering tendencies within the impedance, we’re capable of detect the hormonal change and make a prediction to the person,” explains CEO and founder Kristina Cahojova. “Since each girl’s fluids are barely totally different, kegg must document at the least one fertile window to offer personalised predictions.”
“Now we have quite a few patents on the underlying design of kegg and key features of the way it operates,” she provides.
Kegg was unveiled on the TechCrunch Disrupt SF stage, again in 2018, as a part of our startup battlefield competitors (although it didn’t go on to win). Quick ahead two years and it’s now formally launching out of beta to supply the FDA-registered gizmo to the U.S. market — priced at $275.
It’s asserting a $1.5M seed spherical too, with traders together with Crescent Ridge Companions, SOSV, Texas Halo Fund, Fermata Fund and MegaForce, in addition to some unnamed angel traders.
Commenting in a press release, Samina Hydery, kegg advisor and girls’s well being investor, stated: “Investor curiosity in femtech and fertility has accelerated over the previous couple of years. Whereas I’ve seen an inflow of ovulation prediction kits, at-home blood assessments, menstrual monitoring apps, and temperature displays within the client market, kegg’s worth proposition turned clear as soon as I spoke with girls about their experiences making an attempt to conceive and medical researchers within the subject. It’s onerous to not get excited by the assorted development vectors that may broaden kegg’s market sooner or later — from getting used as a device for pure household planning to serving to monitor postpartum/perimenopausal well being.”
“We delight ourselves in having nearly half of our traders girls,” notes Cahojova — whose inspiration for constructing kegg was private; having suffered from irregular menstrual cycles herself.
“I didn’t need to be handled with hormones. After I talked to fertility instructors or a specialised fertility physician, all they needed to find out about was my patterns of cervical fluid. Why? As a result of the fertile window is outlined solely by the presence of fertile cervical fluid, having a constructive LH [luteinizing hormone] take a look at is sweet but it surely received’t enable you to get info to repair your cycles. That’s why so many fertility medical doctors are fascinated by cervical fluid and that’s the reason so many ladies are informed to trace it with their fingers,” she explains.
“How on earth are you supposed to have the ability to observe objectively one thing so vital, but, non-public with out the assistance of know-how? I used to be annoyed and offended that each firm that I talked to didn’t have an answer and didn’t need to make this so wanted product as a result of it ‘must go into the vagina’. So I got down to make a product that will assist me and girls like me.”
To this point kegg has been hitting a chord with U.S. girls of reproductive age who’re making an attempt for a child, based on Cahojova — who says her startup has constructed a 2,000-strong group of fertility-tracking girls over kegg’s beta interval.
“Our typical person is a girl in her reproductive age,” she says. “Our customers are in long-term relationships or married they usually seemingly have been actively making an attempt to conceive for greater than three months. Fifty p.c try to conceive their first little one, whereas the remaining are already moms.
“Our prospects have expertise with BBT (physique basal temperature charting) or LH assessments (ovulation assessments) and they’re total fascinated by holistic fertility and wellness, not in treatment. Additionally they want the comfort of kegg over different strategies that both should be worn all through the evening or used extra regularly.”
“Every girl is exclusive and so are her cycles,” she provides. “In contrast to ovulation trackers, kegg helps girls perceive their fertile window and cyclical fertility and observe their very own patterns. Normally girls take as much as six months to discover ways to learn cervical fluid patterns. Our prospects report that kegg provides them confidence they usually really feel empowered. Many keggsters conceived with kegg after years of making an attempt as a result of kegg gave them tendencies past ovulation. Nothing makes me extra pleased than an e mail from a buyer whose life modified due to my work and kegg.” (On that it says “a number of” girls have reported profitable pregnancies utilizing kegg for the reason that beta launch in 2018.)
The startup additionally has its eye on worldwide growth, together with to Asia (with the assist of its Japanese-market targeted investor Fermata) — with a plan to launch kegg in Singapore in late October, and in Japan and Canada subsequent yr.
Whereas the kegg has a core concentrate on fertility monitoring (and a secondary characteristic as a linked pelvic flooring coach), Cahojova is happy about wider prospects for ladies’s well being that she hopes will probably be opened up as they’re ready to absorb and crunch extra information.
Kegg customers’ impedance readings are uploaded to the startup’s cloud for evaluation, so its algorithms could make a customized fertility prediction. However its web site additionally notes it makes use of ‘anonymized/pseudonymized’ information for analysis into girls’s well being. (Cahojova specifies customers’ private information isn’t shared exterior the corporate. “Any information we provide to researchers we work with is accomplished anonymized,” is her privateness promise.)
Requested what areas of analysis she’s hoping kegg will assist advance, she tells us: “Researchers have famous that well being points can have an effect on typical electrolyte cycles. In a lot of our inner research we’ve seen examples the place readings had been ‘out of norm’ for the person. In case after case we discovered proof of underlying well being points (for instance infections) had been the trigger. Sooner or later our purpose is to grasp how kegg can assist monitor total cervical well being.”
Cahojova additionally says the machine is being utilized by fertility instructors and medical doctors to assist with monitoring their sufferers. “The fantastic thing about kegg is that by having a person pleasant and fashionable machine that ladies like to make use of we will get information on adjustments of vaginal fluids on a big scale. With kegg information we additionally hope to assist medical doctors lastly reply their billion greenback query — how can they enhance the standard of cervical fluid.”
“We’re supportive of science and are open for analysis collaborations,” she provides. “We supplied kegg for impartial peer-reviewed scientific research underneath Dr.Gabriela López Armas, MD, PhD, for her analysis on kegg and different fertility trackers. All of the individuals completed the protocols in summer time of 2020 and the research is to be printed independently within the close to future.”
Whereas the enterprise mannequin for kegg is presently fastened value gross sales, Cahojova says the startup is providing subscription packages in future. “Sooner or later, we need to supply extra to our customers, e.g.: connecting them to specialists to overview their cycles or view of extra layers of data. As soon as we now have enhanced companies prepared, we’ll take a look at switching to a subscription mannequin,” she provides.