The vaginal microbiome is finally getting the spotlight it deserves and it’s all because of Evvy.
In an effort to aid in scientific research to help women and those with vaginas learn about their vaginal microbiome, the cutting-edge company is offering answers with a simple at-home vaginal health test.
Evvy’s head of clinical research and operations, Pita Navarro, recently appeared on the podcast “Beyond the Paper Gown,” hosted by Mitzi Krockover, M.D. Navarro says she wants women to realize they’re not alone and that there’s help available on the health care journey.
“The big vision here is really to build a better understanding of the female body and analyze biomarkers that have been historically overlooked,” Navarro said on the podcast. “How can we better understand the complexities in the female body and use them as signals to better diagnose, treat, and predict risk for disease in the female body?”
Navarro describes Evvy’s test as an at-home vaginal swab women can administer, then send to a lab for metagenomic sequencing. “A lot of the reference databases are actually on gut bacteria. Research on the vaginal microbiome is expanding as we go further on it,” Navarro says. “In the vaginal microbiome, lactobacilli are a protective kind of bacteria that produce lactic acid, help keep the vaginal pH low, and protect against pathogens.”
So how does Evvy determine if an at-home test is right for a specific person? Navarro says the most frequent question they receive at Evvy is: Am I normal?
Navarro explains. “What is optimal and what is not optimal is more of a spectrum that’s still being discovered. Science doesn’t have a robust definition of ‘healthy’ for all ages.”
Because research is still emerging in this area, Navarro says Evvy is very up-front with its clientele, stating what’s well-established by science and what’s still novel or emerging.
“Women are excited to collaborate with us, asking, ‘How can I help?’” Navarro says. “Being up front, treating women like they’re smart and giving them all the information while also explaining it in detail and giving them the scientific sources [is key].”
Evvy Aims To Improve Lives of Women and Their Families
Navarro says Evvy’s main priority is giving women and those with vaginas answers about their own bodies. She adds that women are grateful that someone is taking the time to explain what this information could mean and that the test is really for everyone with a vagina.
“We have all different types of people taking this test,” Navarro says. “If you were to put it in a couple of buckets, one would be women who experience recurrent vaginal infections or symptoms. Another is also women in menopause who have never really experienced vaginal symptoms, but when they get to menopause, because of the decrease in estrogen, they start to experience these infections. It’s also prenatal and postpartum women who are experiencing hormonal fluctuations.”
Navarro says there’s also a set of customers who just want to know everything about their bodies. “It’s really interesting for us,” Navarro says, “because there are women who aren’t really experiencing any symptoms, but who are excited to be citizen scientists and participate in research.”
Here’s What To Expect After the At-Home Evvy Test
Navarro says Evvy works with a lot of doctors and test takers. “We also get on the phone with each of our customers for 30 minutes to discuss the results and what they’ll want to talk to their doctor about,” Navarro adds. “A lot of the work we do is educating women on how to even talk about their symptoms. We want to help make the conversation with patients and doctors more productive.”
Evvy offers women and those with vaginas the ability to track their vaginal microbiome, which Navarro says can vary if they’re taking antibiotics, having sex with a new partner, or under a lot of stress. “We can help them understand their vaginal health,” Navarro explains. “Women spend so much money on so many products that don’t actually work. We really help women understand, ‘What are the products that are actually helping you?’ and ‘What are the products that you should immediately stop using because they might make your symptoms worse?’”
Although Evvy’s home tests are not currently covered by insurance, Navarro says they are HSA (health savings account) and FSA (flexible spending account) eligible. As for what’s next for Evvy, Navarro shares the brand will continue to focus on understanding these conditions before jumping into any solutions. “There is no silver bullet,” Navarro says. “For us, it’s really important to advance the science. It’s about characterization and partnering with clinical providers who understand this comprehensive testing.”
Published by Samantha Brown