Health Startup Helps Women Get Easy Answers to Tough Questions

 

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Is peeing after intercourse really going to help me prevent a urinary tract infection? How do I tell him I don’t want to have sex without making him lose interest in me? What is a pap smear and when should I get one? Many women have a wide array of questions on health and relationships that, while important, can be socially awkward to approach a person about, leaving them unanswered by medically sound information.  A new women’s health startup, Confi, wants to fix that.

The original idea for Confi was born when the founder, Tess Brooks, was chatting with one of her closest friends, and the conversation veered towards the deeply personal topic of physical intimacy. Her friend hesitantly shared that she had experienced significant pain during a recent sexual encounter, but was too embarrassed to bring it up with her partner or doctor and barely had the courage to confide in friends like Tess. Launched early 2015 and based in the Harvard I-lab, Confi creates expert-approved content on women’s health and sexual health topics in a fun, relatable way.

Research conducted by the group has found that 70% of young women use forums as their go-to source for sensitive health information, some of which might not be accurate or trustworthy and lead women to make uninformed decisions about their health. We have all been there, having an awkward question that we only felt comfortable sharing with an incognito window, especially since sex education is lacking to nonexistent in schools.

Tess wanted to create a trusted resource that provides info on health questions that are commonplace and impact one’s social and romantic relationships, but can be difficult to ask about. Confi’s mission is to empower women to be confident in their bodies and relationships, by providing engaging infographic content through its free online platform. Confi covers topics ranging from contraceptives, yeast infections, and pelvic pain, to body image, sex, and gender identity.

 

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“Our content generation is obsessively focused on what real women want to know, through hundreds of surveys and focus groups,” says Brooks. “We show that most questions and situations are more common than people realize, and address holistic topics like ‘how can I talk to my partner about this,’ in addition to the purely medical questions.”

To support Confi’s free content, the team will start piloting sexual assault prevention events and curated e-commerce this spring. The team’s focus has first been on building the foundation of high-quality content and building user awareness before prematurely focusing on monetization.

Tess didn’t expect to start a business while currently studying for an MBA at Harvard Business School, but felt compelled to help solve this problem and is passionate about increasing access to health and education. “It’s the first time in my life that I’ve felt like a have a voice and can make a real difference. The privilege of access to exceptionally smart people and resources at HBS made this an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up,” says Brooks. “It’s been inspiring to see how many people have rallied to get involved. We’ve gotten over 70 job applications during the past month, and our expert advisors have been incredibly supportive as well. We have grown our core team to 10 contributors, who are all passionate about women’s health and empowerment and find it refreshing to be part of a female-driven startup in the context of what feels like a male-dominant startup community.”

One of the original team members, Kristen Shim, who is a junior at Harvard College echoes this motivation. “I love being a part of the Confi team,” she said. “As someone who entered college knowing nothing about sex or sexual health, I got involved because I wanted people to know that their questions and concerns are valid, that it is okay as a woman to be interested, scared, or curious about sex. I’ve learned so much from the other women on the team. All of us really believe that Confi’s content can change the way people talk or think about sex and sensitive health topics.”

And it’s not just women who are drawn to Confi’s content. A significant portion of their traffic comes from men, who trust the content on the site specifically because it is geared towards women and supported by reputable experts. Confi sees this as a very encouraging step in opening up conversations about important topics within relationships as men look for insight on how to help their significant others answer these tough questions.

Looking forward, Confi hopes to expand globally and shift culture to be able to comfortably talk and learn about reproductive health. Lack of education is an underlying cause of many social problems, and Confi’s work can help reduce unplanned pregnancies, STDs, unhealthy relationships, and anxiety. It’s an ambitious undertaking, but this team has the drive to make it happen!

 

 

Tess Brooks HeadshotABOUT THE AUTHOR: TESS BROOKS

Tess is currently an MBA student at Harvard Business School and the founder of Confi. She has an undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Anthropology and loves doing research and understanding different cultures. She spent the past three years working in management consulting for Bain & Company in Brazil, Argentina, and California.

Originally posted 2016-01-25 12:00:56. Republished by Blog Post Promoter