Imagine a unique India existing in a parallel world where there exists no stereotypes, where people don’t think a million times before uttering the word ‘sex’, where a woman can discuss all her sexual problems even with a male doctor without any hesitation, without even thinking about any questions that are going to hit directly on her character afterwards. Seems interesting, right?
Now stop imagining because this is what HERdle comes with.
As the name suggests, women, in India, face a lot of hurdles in life but when it comes to the gynaecological care, all these hurdles combine to form a much bigger hurdle. HERdle is a women’s health brand which is working in the direction to provide women with the utmost gynaecological care that they deserve.
You will be shocked to know that out of all the cervical cancer deaths in the world, 25% deaths happen nowhere other than in India. The infertility rate due to an untreated STD in India is close to 10%. There is a lack of access to information, a lack of access to resources, and a huge social stigma around to even discuss sexual health topics.
Sarina, who has worked in healthcare for her entire career, told us in an interview that out of the 500 women she spoke to in and around India, almost every woman had a story that involved being ashamed or embarrassed by a gynecologist for being an unmarried woman, or were too scared to see a gynecologist for the fear of coming out as a ‘non-virgin‘ or being judged.
From micro-lending for women in Peru to rehabilitating victims of human trafficking in India, Sarina has done it all. She always had a passion and energy for development of women. On her many visits to and across the country, she was always inspired by women at every state, age, and economic background. According to Sarina, women (she) are resilient, she is strong, she is humble, and she is self-sacrificing.
She never puts herself first, and never complains either. She takes on so many roles, yet no one is her advocate. This health information is not rocket science. Nor is it proprietary. It is every woman’s right to know about her body, and Sarina humbly hopes to provide that information in a way that best meets her needs. HERdle provides curated content on subjects pertaining to sexual health, mental health, fertility, diet, and wellness. HERdle also offers an AI symptom diagnosis chatbot for sexual health infections and other conditions, created by expert and non-judgemental gynecologists. Soon, HERdle will offer on-demand blood and urine testing so that women can easily and accurately understand their conditions in a convenient, safe, and private manner.
Additionally, HERdle will offer tele-health consultations with gynecologists, fertility specialists and therapists, and direct-to-consumer pharmaceuticals and products so women can access the resources they need without ever being ashamed or judged.
According to Sarina, she is working with a highly stigmatized subject. With sexual education banned in many states, there is a lot of push back that her resources will make women ‘more promiscuous.’ She believes that this is just wrong.
“A healthy society is less of a burden on limited resources. An educated society is a better-equipped society” says Sarina.
On a personal level, Sarina has been pregnant with her first child, gave birth, had a major health scare related to pregnancy, and has been raising her beautiful daughter, all while building this company. According to her, it, of course, isn’t easy. Her ‘tribe’ of support – her husband, her parents (especially her mom), and friends – have made this all possible.
Currently, HERdle is in the process of hiring a Partnerships Lead to build the supply chain pipeline with the labs and product companies. The company is starting its first pilot in Bangalore, but soon after, will be expanding to other major cities across India.
Sarina told that she hopes every woman in the world feels as if she can easily and comfortably take charge of her health and wellness without judgment or scarcity of resources. According to Sarina, we need to normalize female health topics, so women don’t die from unnecessary and preventable conditions.
She also feels that we need to bring men into the conversation – not only providing the ability for them to access stigmatized resources, but also to help normalize and de-stigmatize this topic for their mothers, wives, and daughters.
The day is not far when both females and males would be discussing sexual health related topics with each other without even having a second thought. The day is not far when there would be no hesitation among parents to teach their children about good sexual practices. The day is not far when women would be free from the discomfort they feel and the judgemental comments they hear while going to the doctor. There would be no boundaries to cross because then, the world would be a boundless, limitless and much safer place for women.