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Period Products

The Rise of Femtech: An Interview with Ida Tin

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Ida Tin, Danish entrepreneur and author, is the co-founder and CEO of Clue, a menstrual cycle tracking app. Tin has been named Female Web Entrepreneur of the Year at the Slush Conference in 2015. Clue has become increasingly popular, not only among the medical community, but also with women around the world. The design is simple, the main colors being white and red, no pink and no flower. Ida Tin is also accredited with coining the term “femtech.”


What is Clue, for those who don’t know?

Clue is a female health app that helps you understand your menstrual cycle so you can discover how to live a full and healthy life. Women and people with cycles use Clue to know when their period is coming, when they are more or less likely to get pregnant, to track birth control, moods, symptoms, pains and more. Clue is one of the most popular apps in the health category and has been rated the top free period tracker app by the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, a publication of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Clue partners with leading universities, including Stanford, Columbia, Oxford, and the University of Washington, to contribute to new advances in female health research.

Why do you think Clue has become so big?

I think the main reason Clue has become so popular is because it is something that was needed. When I dreamed up the idea of Clue, I felt that there had been very little innovation in family planning since the pill came out. I was wondering how it could be that we managed to walk on the moon but that most women still don't know which days they can or can’t get pregnant. I personally needed such a tool to manage that very important part of my life, and I was convinced that many other women would find an app like Clue not only very useful but also very empowering.

What makes Clue different, as a period tracker and as a company?

Clue is about more than simply knowing when your period is coming. It helps you track and discover the patterns in your cycle that impact your daily life, so you can gain a better understanding of your overall health. Additionally, all the content in Clue is backed up by the latest scientific research - so you know you are getting the most trustworthy, accurate information about your health.


How is the app personalized and how is Clue planning to further personalize it?

Users can track their period, fertile window, PMS, moods, pains, symptoms, exercise, medication, birth control usage, and notes about their cycle, in order to gain a better understanding of their own patterns and personal trends. When you are able to identify patterns that are unique to you, you feel more in control of your own body, and better able to manage the changes that are taking place within it.

Clue’s ongoing goal is to continue advancing research into female health, and to make basic information about reproductive health more accessible. It would be safe to predict that tracking apps and gadgets will become increasingly intuitive in the future, and will eventually monitor everything from heart rate and blood pressure to stress levels to amount of and quality of movement, ultimately capturing data that will allow us to better understand both our emotional and physical wellbeing. This amount of data can only be a good thing, as it will offer doctors instant access to a far more detailed, personalized, and accurate medical history.

How is Clue combatting the stigma and misconceptions that so often surround menstruation?


The biggest challenge since Clue's launch directly relates to the lack of resources women have when it comes to their health -- whether due to a lack of scientific research or due to societal taboos. Paving the way for an entirely new space, Femtech, and opening up the dialogue globally has been one of the biggest, and most exciting, challenges we've faced building Clue. These misconceptions and stigmas exist because of a lack of research into, and understanding of, menstruation. We are working to combat these through numerous studies and collaborative research, such as our international survey that looked into menstrual taboos.

Our ultimate goal is to completely move female health away from its status as ‘niche’ and get to a stage where society can openly discuss menstrual health without hesitation. You wouldn’t think twice to mention that you have a headache or sore throat, for example, and when people feel as comfortable talking about cramps or other period related symptoms, only then have we managed to fully break down the stigma surrounding them.

If you knew nothing about the industry you’re currently in, how would you describe it?


I would certainly recognise it as a growing industry, as more and more femtech is emerging, but I probably wouldn’t realise just how underrepresented femtech was in the beginning, and still is to an extent. Reproductive health is an incredibly foundational and central part of our lives, but there’s a real lack of clarity for women over this generally.

The Evolution of Period Products

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By: Saumya Bajaj

It's hard to imagine life without pads or tampons(or your tracking app), but that is how women have had to live for the majority of human history, and sometimes still do. With or without these, women still have periods. So, let's take a look at the evolution of period products.


❖   Ancient History: Most women either used cloth, animal skin, or plants like papyrus or grass; however, most women were on their own to find ways to stop from leaking on everything. In fact, in Ancient Greece, it is well recorded that a woman threw a used sanitary cloth to get rid of a stalker.

❖   1888: Nurses in France realized that the bandages they used to patch up people were a lot better at absorbing blood than the cotton cloth generally used at that time to stop period blood from leaking onto women’s clothes, so they started using the wood pulp bandages. Soon after, commercial companies starting using that idea and some of the first commercial pads-known as Southhall pads-were available for sale in France. In the US, Lister’s Towels: Sanitary Towels for Ladies from Johnson & Johnson were released.

❖   1920s: By this time, many different sanitary pads were for sale, but women still felt uncomfortable buying them, so Johnson & Johnson changed the name of the Lister’s Towels to Nupak. Even then, they were still much too expensive for most women, but when women could buy them, they would place money in a box so they wouldn’t have to speak to a clerk who was almost certainly male. They would also have to use a sanitary belt, which you would use by tying your pad to the ends of the belt.

❖   1931: Dr. Earl-Haas invented and patented the first modern tampon, Tampax, later selling it to Gertrude Schulte Tenderich.


❖   1936: Judith Essar-Mittag created the o.b. tampon. It was a tampon without an applicator, making it more environmentally-friendly than a regular tampon. It was marketed as much more effective at guarding against leaks. She later sold her patent to Johnson & Johnson.

❖   1937: Leona Chalmers patented the first usable menstrual cup, though it was not very successful.

❖   1980s: This was around the time when the adhesive strip came to be in use for period “technology.” This quickly became women’s preferred menstrual product. Throughout the years, pads became thinner and more discreet.

❖   2002: The first reusable silicone menstrual cup was created and sold in the UK through Mooncup, eventually spreading to Europe, and then the United States.

Menstrual hygiene has come leaps and bounds since the 20th century,  but the reality is that many women still don’t have access to these products. Because of this, many girls and women can never finish school, making it virtually impossible for them to ever get out of poverty. We still have leaps and bounds to go, so let’s not celebrate just yet.