Alice Williams, 27, is one of many women who suffer from period pain. Pain that on many occasions became so debilitating that she would blackout or vomit.
In Australia, period pain or dysmenorrhoea, as it’s referred to clinically, affects up to 90% of women. Tired and fed up with the limited options available, Williams began her company Ovira with a sole purpose: To end the monthly suffering of women everywhere.
“Women’s health has been historically ignored across the board in every category, and the only products we ever really have pushed on us are there to take advantage of our insecurities, rather than fixing real problems for us,” Williams tells TheLatch—.
Williams suffers from endometriosis, a condition which she says brought her such intense period pain that impacted her work and social life at its worst. And while she tried to find a solution to her problems, she was always left disappointed.
“I would speak to all kinds of medical professionals; I visited doctors and pharmacies, I tried Chinese medicine, naturopathy, saunas, chiro, physio, everything. But through it all, the only clinical options that were available for me were painkillers or the contraceptive pill.
“And over time, that’s a lot of pills to take just to manage pain, which is crazy for a young woman, and particularly when scientists are making driverless cars and actual spaceships.”
Williams proceeded on what she describes as a “wild goose chase” to find a better solution for her own pain, which is how she eventually came across electrotherapy in medical journal articles.
“What’s interesting about electrotherapy is that it was invented in the 1980s, so it’s a technology that has been around for so long, but was never really made a widely available solution for pain, despite the fact it was proven to work.”
When Williams first tried electrotherapy, she describes a huge sense of elation and happiness, that a drug-free and instant solution was finally available. “But at the same time, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of betrayal towards the medical community for the fact the option to reduce pain exists, but wasn’t available,” she says.
Williams recruited the help of her friend who works as an engineer, and together they created Ovira, Australia’s first natural, drug-free and non-invasive solution to period pain.
The device works like so: You attach the discreet ‘love handle’ compression panels to your actual love handle area or lower abdomen with a gentle adhesive, then plug the panels into the small Ovira unit.
Turn her on, and a small electrical current runs into the compression pads and ultimately prevents the pain signals from travelling to the brain. This in turn causes the muscles in the uterine area to relax, resulting in a calming analgesic effect.
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Williams has bigs plans for the future of Ovira, and no matter where the company takes her and her team, she knows she’ll always preference female health first and continue to find solutions for the unsolved issues the women of today face.
“You look at menstrual health now and it’s encouraging to see new products becoming available. Where pads and tampons were previously the only options, we now have period underwear and menstrual cups which is great.
“But there are other problems women are experiencing in every other week of the month that includes bloating, cravings, menstrual migraines, acne, the list goes on. And there are no brands out there addressing all of these problems.”
“We received a message from a woman last week who said our products saved her from going to hospital once a month.”
Williams recently secured $1.5 million in funding from Blackbird Ventures to continue her work with the Ovira brand. With that new-found funding, she says the first port of call is to build out a team.
“I’ve been on my own for so long and it has been lonely at times! Now, we have two new starters and I’m so excited to have a team around me. Bigger picture, though, the funding will be used for growth.
“We want to be the global leaders in menstrual health. We’re starting off with period pain, but this will lead us towards our goal of solving more problems for women.”
Ovira is available online for $169 — a small price to pay for never having period pain again.