Game Changers 2017: Lea Von Bidder of Ava

When trying to get pregnant, understanding your own health is an important first step. But fertility is a confusing, complicated topic for a lot of women. You’re all of a sudden confronted with a host of mysterious stats and facts about your body—and a lot of myths you haven’t heard since your 10th grade health class.

Enter Lea Von Bidder, the 26-year-old president of Ava, a health technology company for women. Lea wants to empower women to take control of their health with a simple wearable bracelet—and revolutionize the field along the way.
“What I care about is that women are held back—at the workplace or doing what they are passionate about—by limitations that only they face because they are women. Getting pregnant is one of those,” says Lea. “It plays such a huge role because the whole topic—Should you have a child? Do you want the child? When do you want to child?—touches very closely to the issues we see holding women back either in positions at their company or on corporate boards.”

Ava is a bracelet that monitors fertility in real time. Put it on before you go to sleep and it tracks nine different physiological parameters, such as resting pulse rate, heart rate variability, and skin temperature. When you wake up, sync your bracelet with the app and you’ll get unprecedented information about your menstrual cycle and your fertility. (Kick-start your new, healthy routine with Women’s Health’s 12-Week Total-Body Transformation!)

Since Ava tracks as many as three million data points, it’s more precise than the old-fashioned method of tracking just one parameter like your temperature. “It allows us to be so much more accurate and to detect fertile days much earlier than any other method,” says Lea, which can make a huge difference to couples trying to get pregnant. For example, results from Ava’s clinical trials found that pulse rate increases by two beats per minute during the fertile window compared to the menstrual phase.

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“The technology we’ve built helps women get insights about the hormonal changes in their body and insights into their health in a very convenient manner,” says Lea. And she plans to build on top of that technology platform, such as creating a non-hormonal form of contraception, to help women understand their cycle and take charge of their health.

“We want Ava to be a companion for women throughout different life stages,” says Lea, from women who want to get pregnant to women who are breastfeeding or just want to learn more about their cycles. That egalitarian mindset is reflected in Lea’s own role models, who are women she says “do amazing things.” The list includes her mother and her friend Laura Behrens Wu, the founder of Shippo. “These people are all people who dared to do things that are extraordinary and risky and are at the same time incredibly humble and self-aware.”

The field of women’s health is under-served in terms of money and research, according to Lea. And she’s excited about bringing women’s health into the future and making a difference. “When you wake up every morning, you want to feel like you’re doing something that makes sense and adds value,” she says. “Doing Ava is valuable to me.”

Source: Game Changers 2017: Lea Von Bidder of Ava

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