A new Femtech company is combating the myth that “pain is normal” for women with a smart bodysuit that reduces menstrual pain through heat and micro-vibrations.
Anna Zsofia Kormos and Dora Pelczer have designed and developed Artemis, a hypoallergenic merino wool and lenzing lyocell bodysuit, linked to a software application which is controlled by an app on your phone. The app regulates the heat and micro-vibrations within the bodysuit with 10 levels of intensity for both and 5 different wave modules, so women can completely personalise the device.
“For millions of women, menstruation is a condition that appears on a monthly basis, which, in addition to its physical effects, can also result in serious mental difficulties”, Dora explained. “In order for women to participate in different segments of social life, such as work, family, career, with equal opportunities, new, alternative and instant pain relief methods are needed.”
Artemis is based on deep UX research and in their testing, all of their beta testers instantly felt pain relief with a long-lasting effect and 40% of them even felt relief in other symptoms like bloating or thigh ache, all with no side effects.
Previous research shows that heat therapy reduces period pain by increasing the blood flow to that area of the body, a recent study concluded that heat therapy treated period cramps by easing tension in the uterine, pelvic, and abdominal muscles. The Artemis app also includes data logging to measure objective period pain and help accelerate this sector of women’s health research.
However, unlike many other heat-relief options and vibration belts, Artemis has been designed as a lifestyle product so that “users don’t feel like they’re wearing a medical device”. They also hope, in the future, to collaborate with designers to give women apparel options.
Artemis was founded from co-founder Anna's struggles with “unbearable” period pain from a young age. When working on her Ph.D. thesis on wearable technology, she realised she wanted to integrate garments and technologies to make a difference. She and Dora discussed this plan at a period pain and poverty exhibition: “I fell in love with the project immediately and offered to help her make ARTEMIS a reality”, Dora said.
But it’s not just about the physical, they want Artemis to also address harmful stigmas around periods. “On an individual level period pain is still something that people are ashamed of and women feel that it makes them weaker. That’s why it is so important for us that Artemis not only combats the physical pain but mental pain of period tool” said Dora.
The technical term for period pain is dysmenorrhoea and it’s estimated that 80% of women will experience period pain in their life with 5% - 10% saying that the pain disrupted their life.
“Many of us are being raised without questioning the fact that period pain is normal. Period pain is shouldn't be considered normal, it can be a sign for serious health issues and the need for further medical examinations, for example to diagnose endometriosis”, said Anna. “We can manage a proper busy work day even suffering from the strongest period cramps - sometimes we can feel as a superpower, sometimes it’s devastating. But we couldn’t state that it`s normal, because to manage a day we need to medicate ourselves.”
There has been the introduction to alternative pain management solutions such as Spain passing a ‘Menstrual leave’ law for women with debilitating period pain - the first country in Europe to do so. Artemis found this an “encouraging step” however, feel women need to be given all the education and tools to fully take advantage of such change. “Rome wasn’t built in a day a few years of raising awareness doesn’t compare to the centuries of stigmatisation of menstruation. But we need to educate the new generation for a better body and mind consciousness,” Anna said.
Artemis has been supported by 2 rounds of investment from Hiventures, the largest investment partner in the development of Hungarian enterprises. They have completed 3 prototype iterations and are now launching a reward-based crowdfunding campaign on the Indiegogo platform so people can place orders but also support the project. Artemis encourages people to be a part of the change they want to see when it comes to period prejudice.