- Dec 7, 2023
Lola&Lykke and women's remote medical centre Isla Health have joined forces to offer pregnant and postpartum women a low threshold 'ask the Doctor´ remote service. This is a 20-minute telephone consultation with an OB-GYN Specialist, where customers can discuss any questions they might have about childbirth, postpartum discharge, menstruation, or really anything that concerns their mind relating to gestational or female health.
Fertility, pregnancy and recovering from childbirth are sensitive and intimate experiences that many women need support with. The Isla Health OB-GYN specialists help during times when traditional healthcare systems cannot address women´s individual needs. Through a remote tele-consultation, women can get confidential help with problems they may be experiencing from the comfort of their own homes. Should there be a need for further medical care, this can be easily arranged through the Isla Health remote clinic.
This completely new service is launched at an affordable price of €58, so that more mothers can easily access the expert help they need, when they most need it.
Women´s Health – the Lola&Lykke perspective
Under-funded, under-researched, under-innovated, women’s health has faced huge obstacles since the early days of medicine. Women were only included in clinical trials about 30 years ago - before that, women's bodies were considered too complex or hormonal to produce acceptable research results. This has led to dire outcomes for women—including chronic misdiagnosis, increased suffering, and higher fatality rates. Although some more attention has been paid to women´s health over the last years, these are still problems we struggle with these days.
It's clear that women are calling for change: 110,000 women recently responded to a call for evidence around health inequalities in the UK. Based on this, the UK Government published its first Women’s Health Strategy, which aims to address the gender health gap. In the UK and Ireland, over 2,363,986 searches on ‘Reproductive Health’ are made every day so there is clearly a need for this.
The prevailing inequality in healthcare between men and women is clearly visible. Although one in three women suffer from fertility-related or gynecological health problems, only less than 2.5% of publicly funded research is directed at women's reproductive health.
It’s time for a change: we need a shift away from male-centric medicine and increased focus and funding on women’s health. Women’s health is, in fact, human health. So when it comes to healthcare, why are women such an afterthought? It is clear that women's health can no longer be considered marginal or too complicated when thinking about the bigger picture of healthcare.
At Lola&Lykke, our mission is to disrupt and digitise breastfeeding and postpartum support globally. We’d love to say that our success is all down to us, but the truth is, we’re here because the world needs us. 90% of new mothers will experience physical and psychological breastfeeding and post-pregnancy difficulties and millions of women are not getting the support they need.
Public sector funds and means of assistance are scarce - especially after the birth of a baby, new mothers are often left completely alone, and help is not easy to find.
Investing in women’s health is investing in the health of all. Founders can reach consumers and patients much quicker than the traditional systems allow. With the right funding mechanisms, startups can drive real progress within women´s healthcare that is desperately needed right now. We are excited to continue our work within women´s health, ensuring that each mother receives the help and support she needs, when she needs it.
Women´s Health – the OB-GYN perspective
Finland has an international reputation as a country with world-leading maternity care. Giving birth is safe for both mothers and children, and we offer almost free maternal healthcare for everyone. You can be rightly proud of the results!
But how is maternal health approached when there is no child in the womb? After giving birth, the focus shifts largely to the newborn, and traditional healthcare is no exception. Even during pregnancy, there are considerable gaps between different care contacts, and often the expecting mother receives insufficient attention due to these care gaps. Especially in larger cities, you can hardly talk about continuity of care. When there is no familiar health nurse let alone a midwife assigned to support a woman through her entire pregnancy, you lose a lot of the security and trust that comes with having a continuous care relationship.
Overall, when it comes to women´s health from menstruation to menopause and life as a woman after that, gynecological care and help is subject to a strong requirement of self-initiative. Our healthcare model is based on the so-called referral culture, i.e. that if it is estimated that there is a need for specialist expertise, the patient is referred to specialist medical care. However, when it comes to gynecological diseases, there is a special gap here: confusingly often, the patient receives a mere instruction to visit a gynaecologist instead of an actual referral. As if the onus on ensuring ongoing good health as a woman is down to the woman herself.
The routine, annual visit to the gynecologist is falling away from our learned health behavior. This is a sign of positive development for many reasons, including the gender perspective. It is peculiar that women should visit a specialist at their own expense every year to check, for example, their contraceptive needs or hormonal treatment. Instead, gynaecologist visits should be offered as a public service or the costs should be distributed more evenly by offering the service, for example, as part of occupational healthcare. However, currently gynaecologist visits are often either completely excluded from occupational health contracts or their number is limited, as if doctor visits relating to women's health were above and beyond to what can be classed as standard healthcare.
Unnecessary treatment and examinations should naturally be avoided, but due to excessive normalization, many typical female health concerns go unrecognized. Our traditional healthcare sets certain limits of normality for women's health, and women's symptoms and experiences outside these limits are mostly ignored. However, there are many individual experiences and symptoms associated with women's health - it is therefore impossible to lump women together and imagine that one size fits all, when this is rarely the case. Under the ´one size fits all´ approach within women´s health, it remains difficult for women to get treatment related to their own health, especially if special circumstances apply or the health issue falls outside the parameters of what is considered normal. To approach women's health holistically, we should broaden our perspectives and understand that every woman is an individual with individual health needs.
Individual health data also plays a crucial role as we work to improve women's healthcare. When women are offered a clear understanding of how, for example, the different stages of the menstrual cycle affect general coping or what the drastic postpartum hormonal drop really looks like, this offers them a clear way to understand their own body and feelings. With the help of data, we can show women that they are not merely dealing with 'female problems', but instead with major upheavals in their bodies that affect our everyday lives in very different ways.
Even a "mere routine visit" to the gynecologist can at best enable attention to be paid to problems that essentially affect the quality of life of women. For example, excessive menstruation, debilitating menstrual pains, migraine hormone dependence and (pre)menopausal symptoms are problems that are rarely discussed, let alone offered treatment for outside of a gynaecologist’s office. Not to mention problems related to the female genitalia, such as intercourse pain, urination problems or uterine prolapse, which continue to remain taboo subjects despite their prominence.
My work as a gynecologist offers a vantage point on how women's health problems are viewed in our society. The public healthcare sector is in turmoil and resources are scarce within every field of health. I am however glad to hear that there is a plan to offer more compensation for using private health services. One of the reasons behind this decision was the generally acknowledged difficulty women experience in accessing female health services under our public healthcare system. Although this is merely a temporary solution that does not deal with the cause of a problem, it does signal that the problem of accessing women´s health services is recognised and that different solutions are sought to address it.
Aura Pyykönen, OB-GYN Specialist
by Lola&Lykke Team
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