How Oova is Shaping the Future of Women’s Fertility
Even though birth rates have been rapidly declining since 2008, the fertility tech space has been growing, with startups looking into advancing technologies that can help couples with family planning. The Org speaks with Amy Divaraniya to learn more about how she is shaping the future of women's fertility with Oova.
As Amy Divaraniya sat in her bathroom with ovulation tests scattered around her on the ground, she held her dad’s magnifying glass close up to her pregnancy test, trying to make out whether there was a line on it or two.
Even though birth rates have been rapidly declining since 2008, the fertility tech space has been growing, with startups looking into advancing technologies that can help couples with family planning.
Higher costs of living and an increase in women in the workforce have pushed back the age at which women choose to have their first child, with many people becoming first-time parents in their 40s.
As a result of having children at a later age, infertility too has become a more common problem. A woman’s ability to conceive reduces significantly in her 30s and data shows that sperm count has plummeted for western men.
This was true for Divaraniya, who at this point had tried practically everything that was available to her at the drugstore, and was actively using fertility tracking apps and taking her temperature every day in hopes of conceiving a child.
“Luckily after 18 months, I conceived my son, but those 18 months was the most devastating time of my life and it opened up my eyes to how big of a gap there was in the space of women's health and how we as women are just not empowered with the data or information that we need to understand our fertility,” Divaraniya told The Org.
In order to ease the painful process of infertility for women like herself, Divaraniya who was completing her PhD in Genetics and Genomics Sciences at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai at the time decided to use science to improve existing ovulation tests.
She soon founded Oova, an at-home urine test kit and smartphone app that helps women measure their fertility hormones, track and predict ovulation and share information directly with trusted general practitioners and doctors.
“We built test strips from the ground up. An Oova test measures both the luteinizing hormone and progesterone in one, and it’s a very sensitive test,” Divaraniya said.
Through her process of fundraising for Oova, Divaraniya learned that there was still a lot of taboos around women’s fertility and femtech in general. On top of being told that her product sounded like “a Theranos that works” and being asked if women were actually comfortable with “peeing on a stick,” Divaraniya had to hide the fact that she was pregnant to investors.
“It’s hard to convey to somebody who hasn’t gone through infertility that it is a problem,” Divaraniya said. “When I first started fundraising I was three months pregnant, and I spoke with a bunch of founders, who were mostly female, and I asked if I should disclose that I was pregnant. And every single person told me that you should never tell an investor that you’re pregnant, as you are going to be looked at as a liability.”
Looking into the future, Divaraniya hopes that femtech companies can focus on educating and empowering women to take control of their health and work more closely with clinicians so that they can connect women with their doctors to provide more accurate and personalized information on women’s health.
“Putting a nice brand on a binary ovulation test with nice packaging is not innovation, that’s goog marketing. What I hope to achieve with Oova is moving the bar, because our innovation should not be just adding a smiley blinky face to an ovulation test, but actually using science to build better products,” Divaraniya said.