Stanford graduates develop at-home vaginal microbiome test for women with recurring infections and even infertility
- Evvy is the first at-home vaginal microbiome test using metagenomic sequencing.
- It can reveal imbalances that affect vaginal infections as well as fertility and preterm birth.
- Data from Evvy will help fill in research gaps, which long didn't include women.
For about seven years, Laine Bruzek experienced recurrent vaginal infections, conditions that weren't just uncomfortable but often dictated her daily life. Should she wear those pants? Eat that cookie? Sleep with that partner?
"I always say the best things in life cause vaginal infections," Bruzek told Insider. "Sugar, bubble baths, sex, wearing tight clothing - all the amazing things you want to be able to do just to live your life, you take a gamble every time you want to do them."
So when her friend and former Stanford classmate Priyanka Jain approached her to start a business focused on helping people understand their own vaginal microbiomes - or the
After a year in development and raising about $5 million in seed funding, the duo is launching Evvy, the first at-home vaginal microbiome test using metagenomic sequencing, meaning it looks at the whole picture, not just part of the genome or DNA or viruses or bacteria.
The test can tell women what may be causing a host of vaginal issues and what to do about it. An outside expert told Insider the product is a positive addition to patient's at-home
Vaginal infections are highly common but poorly treated
75% of people with vaginas get at least one
Despite their prevalence, infections like these aren't well treated - hence their propensity for returning. People are given temporary fixes like pills and creams, or entirely brushed off. Female patients are too often told, "Are you sure you're sleeping enough and drinking enough water? Maybe you're just stressed," Jain, a
Evvy, which derives from "every vagina," aims to point women to more sustainable solutions, whether that's avoiding certain activities on certain days of the month or taking a probiotic.
Help for women with infertility
Evvy also aims to help people with infertility, preterm birth, and cervical cancer, which can be influenced by a microbial imbalance in the vagina, though exactly how much is unknown.
"In the vaginal canal, a change in pH can create a barrier to sperm, and these factors receive little attention in the investigation of couples with unexplained infertility," Dr. Jessica Shepherd, an OB-GYN who was not involved in Evvy's development, told Insider.
Evvy's founders hope their product can provide some clarity. "It's not like you fix your vaginal microbiome and you're definitely fertile," Jain said. "But hopefully for some women, we can at least rule out this piece of it. And hopefully for some women, maybe it will help them actually get pregnant."
How it works
Evvy costs $129 for a single swab, and subscription options are available for people who want to track their microbiome four times over the course of a year.
To use it, you swab your vagina and send in the sample, which is analyzed using metagenomic sequencing to "look at every single thing that's present and then how they're all related to each other," Jain said.
Users receive results in two weeks, along with an online dashboard with research-backed recommendations. The product doesn't need FDA approval because it doesn't claim to diagnose conditions.
Using data to paint a picture of what's going on in American vaginas
Women weren't required to be in clinical research until 1993, since scientists saw factors like female hormones as threats to their results. But Jain and Bruzek see them as assets, and will collect Evvy users' data to help fill that void.
"Our whole premise is, 'What if we could take the things that are unique about the female body ... and actually harness those to detect how disease might be manifesting?" Jain said. "That's our highest-level mission."
Editor's note: This story was updated on July 19 to clarify that Evvy is not the first at-home vaginal microbiome test, but the first such test that uses metagenomic sequencing.
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