Meera is no stranger to dealing with the frustrations of finding proper solutions to her hormonal imbalances and irregular periods that weren’t just temporary solutions to suppressing symptoms.
As she began to open up with her struggles, she found that many other women in her circle were struggling with similar health problems. Meera’s university friend Rinisha also noted that her close circle was struggling to find help with treating her polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
When Meera and Rinisha got back together years after graduation, this issue of underserved female health care at brunch came up and they complained that they were not in the health care field.
“And then we had an aha! Wait a minute and were like wait, we may not be certified as naturopaths, but we have skills and experience that could potentially make a difference for women out there, ”they told the Vulcan Post.
With this decision, Meera brought her consulting and startup experience to the table, while Rinisha brought her knowledge in the fields of medical life sciences and SMB marketing, and together they set out to found Citayana Being.
They plan to officially launch in December 2021.
A common problem that is still largely unsolved
Citayana Being is primarily focused on PCOS, and the duo stated that the chronic condition is the most common hormonal disorder in women, with 1 in 10 suffering from it.
However, it is also difficult to diagnose, and the resources and funds to manage it are scarce. Without proper care management, PCOS can develop into serious health problems like infertility, type 2 diabetes, endometrial cancer, and more.
One of the biggest difficulties in diagnosing PCOS lies in the different symptoms each person can have. “Most women waste years and hundreds, if not thousands, of ringgit visiting an average of more than 3 practitioners for diagnosis, effective care management, or nutritional supplements,” said Rinisha and Meera.
Then there is the fact that PCOS diagnosis, treatment, and treatment are not covered unless you have to surgically remove cysts in your ovaries.
“At Citayana Being, we want to help women identify and manage PCOS and other hormonal imbalances by improving an earlier diagnosis and providing coordinated, holistic and personalized care to manage their symptoms,” the duo explained.
But don’t get it wrong, they are not trying to replace a physical visit to a doctor’s office. Instead, what you would find on the website would be a bring together of verified doctors consisting of gynecologists, fitness trainers, nutritionists, naturopaths, and more.
While it’s a common problem, it is still not talked about enough
“The most important things we look at are their knowledge of PCOS, their experience in treating patients with PCOS and their accreditations,” they shared, adding that balanced values are of course also important.
“Understanding the approach of every nurse to nursing management is also done to ensure that it is something sustainable for women, that it empowers them and enables them to continue on the path independently in the long run.”
Go beyond menstruation and fertility
When talking about femtech in Malaysia, many of the existing solutions deal with menstruation and fertility. Aside from these markets, other female issues remain underserved.
Dictionary time: Femtech refers to software, products and services, and diagnostics that use technology to improve women’s health.
“In addition, there were many women-focused topics that offer opportunities for femtech development, topics that have been stigmatized and some of them are still today,” said the duo.
These are just a few reasons why it took so long for changes to occur. Fortunately, awareness is rising now as more conversations and platforms emerge. The duo compared it to the way mental health awareness has developed locally over the years.
Rinisha and Meera can integrate all the professionals and experts they want on their website, but without the trust of the users, the solutions offered will be of little use.
Since this is a health site, trust is all the more important, which could be a challenge for the new startup. To overcome this, the team is providing touchpoints where users can opt for an initial free consultation to experience the website after registering here or being on the waiting list.
They also offer educational images for those who are still learning about PCOS / Image source: Citayana Being
“When it comes to health, everyone’s needs, preferences and goals are different, and regardless of whether we are able to meet theirs, it is important for them to decide whether we can meet their expectations, but also with us are satisfied “, called the duo.
Citayana Being’s packages address the 4 types of PCOS: Insulin Resistance PCOS, Adrenal PCOS, Inflammatory PCOS and Post-Pill PCOS.
With the multitude of professionals on their website, users can choose between conventional medical approaches, alternative approaches, or a mixture of both to suit their needs.
Because there is no one-size-fits-all treatment for PCOS, the pricing range of the packages will be different and the team will provide updated pricing at launch.
Much more could and should be done
Leveraging key partners already having an impact on women’s health care will be one way that Rinisha and Meera foresee the growth scaling of Citayana Being alongside word of mouth.
By working with specialized solution providers, the startup could also help to address financial aid, for example for PCOS diagnosis and care.
Of course, there are also many other gaps in products and services that serve women at different stages of life, relating to their sexual health, aftercare, baby care, and menopause.
While Citayana Being did not specifically state that they would venture into these rooms per se, Meera and Rinisha acknowledge the many opportunities that are out there.
It would be really interesting to see devices for the early detection of breast cancer or ovarian cancer. Another area would be the development of drugs that are more suitable for women; Currently, women are underrepresented in clinical trials for new drugs and this sometimes results in women having more drug side effects due to incorrect dosages or biological differences. One can only imagine how big the market would be if this were done.
Rinisha Devi Vijayen & Meera Maniar, Co-Founders of Citayana Being.
- Find out more about Citayana Being here.
- You can read about other Malaysian startups here.
Photo credit: Rinisha Devi Vijayen & Meera Maniar, Citayana Being co-founders