What Can At-Home DIY Test Kits Tell Us About Our Vaginas?
We asked two experts if they're worth adding-to-cart.
The self-swab test kit Evvy (currently only available in the U.S., at evvy.com) is designed to help women “know what’s up down there,” providing a breakdown of the vagina’s bacteria and fungi composition. Evvy highlights the gap in women’s health care with taglines like “the female body shouldn’t be a medical mystery,” and tells users they’ll be able to “catch imbalances before they become infections.”
How does it work? Users swab themselves and send in the sample for a full analysis, which they receive through an app, along with a game plan of recommendations. Customers can also elect to receive a follow-up call with a “certified health coach.”
(Related: What’s With All the Vaginal Creams, Wipes and Gummies?)
Like many femtech innovations, the product definitely taps into an unmet need. But at $129 USD per kit, plus an optional subscription model for follow-up tests and care, the company also makes a pretty penny trying to fill that gap. This allows wealthier women to believe they have a better knowledge of their microbial makeup, but provides few ways to put that information to good use. Plus, there’s the subtle suggestion that this is yet another female body part we should feel insecure about. (Wait, should I be more worried about my vagina?)
Deborah Money questions the kit’s usefulness. “If you actually have a problem, then you need a diagnosis and a treatment,” she says. And if women who complete the kit are ultimately told to talk to their doctors anyway, she worries users are wasting money and time, instead of seeing an OB/GYN in the first place.
Laura Sycuro has a theory: “What’s at the heart of [this] is women not feeling safe, listened to or validated by their care providers,” she says. The fact that we don’t feel seen by doctors opens the door for our bodies to be turned into a profit opportunity. Private companies have created countless overpriced “for her” personal products, but more dangerous than pink-washed soaps and razors is the fact that we remain understudied in many ways, and that includes a lack of understanding how certain diseases can manifest differently in women.