OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign up, Login or Learn more

An Innovative Menstrual, Sexual and Reproductive Health Commodity With Knowledge Support Delivered Efficiently From the Lab to the Last Mile

Our contribution solves the challenge of the ever-present stock-out scenario particularly related to access to repeat contraceptives.

Photo of Leisa Hirtz
6 0

Written by

Innovative non-hormonal reproductive strategies are lacking for adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) living in low and middle income nations. Bold affordable and easily accessible reproductive solutions, strategies, and innovations are needed now. Difficulty accessing hormonal contraception is not the primary reason for nonuse. The primary concerns relate to adverse side effects. The inability to access contraceptives accounts for only 5% of nonuse.

Our bfree duo is novel, effective, discreet, female-initiated, affordable, environmentally low impact, non-hormonal contraceptive solution that has and continues to be requested by the 15k+ adolescent girls in LMICs who already successfully use a MC. 

In partnership with our research partners at ESPCI Paris, we are developing the bfree duo. The bfree duo is a reusable, female-initiated non-hormonal cervical barrier impregnated with a natural and safe sperm motility inhibitor. This multi-purpose assistive and prevention device aims to prevent pregnancy, may reduce the incidence of HIV infections and doubles as a Menstrual Cup (MC), a globally recognized menstrual management assistive product.

The single device allows for discreetness as the contraceptive aspect is easily disguised in the dual function as a menstrual cup. The menstrual cup is being widely adopted by young women in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Malawi. As a dual device, it supports adolescent girls by reducing anxieties associated with accessing contraception. There are no needles, pills or surgical interventions required. For those women who choose to get pregnant, the contraceptive effect is immediately reversible.

Poor and marginalized adolescent girls and women are the primary focus of this product development. We directly consulted AGYW in LMICs. This innovation emerged from their personal ideas and input. With our research partners along with full disclosure to our interested and engaged investment partners, we have an exciting and high-quality product to deliver. Our integrated approach considers all stages of the value chain from idea inception, production, supply chain through to end-user customer service.

Our bfree duo departs boldly from all other Contraceptive Technology (CT) approaches. It is needed now more than ever with the anticipated devastating effects Trump's global 'gag rule'. Katya Iversen, CEO of Women Deliver, stated at the July 2017 Planned Parenthood Summit in London, “it’s looking dire. We’re seeing the largest cohort of adolescents ever, and the need for contraception will be key for the whole world, not just for them." Globally, 214m women remain in need of contraception. It is incumbent upon us to take positive action to assure access and positive impact.

Maternal mortality is the leading cause of death of adolescent girls between the ages of 15-19. Our Bold Idea will fundamentally transform and reduce the high adolescent pregnancy rate that negatively impacts maternal, newborn and child health. Women who give birth under the age of 19 are at a greater risk of maternal mortality and debilitating obstetric fistulas. Newborn and child health outcomes are negatively correlated with adolescent pregnancy. Adolescent pregnancy has negative social and economic impacts that perpetuate extreme poverty for young mothers and their children. Our technology will fundamentally transform the socioeconomic outcomes for many more young women by impacting via a bottom-up strategy. We are already presently engaged and established in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania with our on the ground research, program and comprehensive sexual education implementation partners.

6 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of John Mullen

Thanks for sharing your experience and insights.

Photo of Leisa Hirtz

John, it's my pleasure. Thank you for the comment!

Best Regards,
Leisa

View all comments