Ever wondered how to navigate the realms of gynecological health and tackle period pain effectively? Join us in this engaging episode as Camille sits down with Valentina Milanova, the innovative force behind Daye. Daye is a trailblazing brand committed to creating revolutionary products and services that empower women in managing their vaginal health and periods, while also addressing critical gaps in women’s healthcare.
In this conversation, Valentina candidly shares her personal journey that led to the inception of Daye, stemming from her own challenges in finding effective gynecological health solutions. Gain insights into the causes of prevalent vaginal infections, as Valentina advocates for more stringent standards in producing high-quality period care products. Discover how Daye has played a transformative role in reshaping the landscape of period care products.
Embark on a journey of knowledge about vaginal health and discover the optimal products with Valentina’s expert advice. Tune in to gain a comprehensive understanding of sustainable and holistic approaches to nurturing your gynecological well-being.
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VALENTINA MILANOVA [00:00]
But I think one of the biggest lies that we're told as women is that you can have it all. I don't think you can have it all at the same time. I think you can have it all in different periods of your life.
CAMILLE WALKER [00:18]
So, you want to make an impact. You're thinking about starting a business sharing your voice. How do women do it that handle motherhood, family, and still chase after those dreams? We'll listen each week as we dive into the stories of women who know. This is Call Me CEO.
Vaginal health is human health, and that's what Daye is all about. And today, we are talking with the owner Valentina Milanova, who is the CEO of a product that is changing the face of gynecological care for women. Let's dive in.
Welcome back everyone to Call Me CEO. This is a place where we celebrate women chasing their passions, bringing businesses to us that change our lives. And today is no different. We have Valentina Milanova who is the creator of Daye, which is a specific company that benefits women and our health. Now, if you are not familiar with it, I hope that you are, I have been trying their products and loving them as they are very organic and have changed the world for female products and our health. So, Valentina, thank you so much for being on the show today.
Thank you for having me. I'm super happy to be on the show.
Yeah, so I am curious. Just as a welcome introduction, please tell our audience who you are, where you live, a little bit about your background.
Sure. So, I'm the founder of Daye, and we are a gynecological health platform that aims to transform the experience of vaginal, menstrual, and hormonal health. We believe that gynecological health is human health, and we deserve higher standards in the care that we receive when we look after our bodies.
So, in brief, what Daye is doing is we're investing heavily in clinical research for the development of new medical devices and new diagnostic devices. And we have two main areas of focus, two big taboo topics in gyne health, the first one being menstrual pain, and second one being vaginal infections.
My background is in law, economics, and public health. I started the company in 2017, after working in think tanks and early-stage venture capital in London. Now, I split my time between London, which is where we have one of our offices, Bulgaria, which is where I'm from and where we do a lot of our work at Daye, and the US. We're expanding to the US now on the back of our FDA approval, which we received in the summer of 2023. So, I'm very excited to be spending a bit more time in the US as well.
Wow, that's amazing. Congrats on getting that FDA approval, I feel like the US is a little bit lacking as far as the guidelines that our food and our products have to go through. I know that when I've traveled to other countries, there are a lot of ingredients that aren't even allowed in the food that we have here in America. So, I really appreciate when countries outside of America bring us even superior things than what we're used to here in America, which I think is definitely the case with Daye.
Yeah, I think the FDA actually has some of the most stringent standards when it comes to period care products. So, it's a bit different in that particular sense. In Europe and United Kingdom, for some reason, tampons are not considered medical devices, even though they go inside the human body. The FDA at least considers tampons as medical devices.
But the standards I believe for tampon manufacturing should really be higher. So, the FDA, for example, only requires you to do a microbiological analysis of your products once upon submission for your 510(k), which is a type of FDA approval. And I wish that we had higher standards in period care manufacturing.
I know there's a few organizations out of northern Europe, which are trying to create an ISO standard for period care. But at present, there are no real guidelines in the US or the UK or Europe on how to safely manufacture tampons, which is why they're not manufactured in clean rooms. They're not sanitized. There's no real control over the supply chain. There's no disclosure of the ingredients that go inside of tampons.
So, America is the leader. Okay, so we're doing that.
For that particular case, yeah.
That's good to hear. I actually have a friend who recently suffered from toxic shock and had to go to the hospital. She had forgotten that she had had a tampon in and had to go visit. And I think what's really interesting about this topic is that toxic shock syndrome is a very real effect that can come from wearing a tampon for too long, but it's not talked about very much.
And so, I'm curious to hear what your professional opinion is on that, how safe it is to have a tampon in, for how long, and it's coming to the pro here. So, tell us about that.
So, one of the biggest misconceptions about toxic shock syndrome is that it's only tampons that cause it. But, in fact, items like period cups actually further increase your risk of toxic shock syndrome. And using pads as well as period pants can also cause toxic shock syndrome.
So, that's one of the first myths that I like to speak about because the reason why we have such a focus on tampons and toxic shock syndrome is because in the 80s, there was a tampon product, which was introduced to market, which was designed to be super absorbent. So, it was designed to be a tampon that you wear for multiple days rather than just for a few hours. And the superabsorbent tampon led to an epidemic of toxic shock syndrome. And that's when the FDA issued guidelines around absorbency for tampons and how frequently you should change them. And that's when we started issuing warnings about tampons and toxic shock syndrome.
But as a result of this focus on tampons, we haven't necessarily educated people about other period care products that can also cause TSS, which means that if you're having TSS-like symptoms, but you're wearing a pad or you're wearing a Mooncup, you might not think to take yourself to the emergency room.
And so, toxic shock syndrome is very rare. So, you're very unlikely to have toxic shock syndrome. However, for the people that do have it, it can be potentially fatal, and it can also result in the loss of a limb. So, it is a very, very serious condition, we do need to take it seriously. We need to provide the right levels of education and accurate information for people to be safe. And we also need to increase the standards in the manufacturing of period care products.
So, Mooncups, period pants, pads, tampons, they're not sanitized. This means that they don't undergo a process of cleaning or removing pathogens which might be on their surface before they're then sent to the consumer for use.
What we've done at Daye in our tampon manufacturing process to mitigate the risk of toxic shock syndrome as much as possible is we've introduced an additional step. Once our products are in their final packaging, they go through gamma rays, which is the same technology that's used to sanitize surgical tools and other items that go inside the body. And in this way, we can guarantee that the tampon that you use in its final packaging does not contain staph and strep, which are the pathogens that cause toxic shock syndrome. So, you're not inserting the pathogens that cause toxic shock syndrome in your vagina when you use sanitized products.
But that's not an industry requirement. And no one does it. And it's something that I feel really passionately about sharing more information on because sanitization is not a very expensive process, it doesn't significantly contribute to the final product becoming more costly. And it's not overly operationally complex. It is a widely available technology that has been known to be safe for decades. So, we really should increase access to some sanitized period care products.
Hey, you're blowing my mind right now, because I always thought that toxic shock was that it was the longevity, if it was in there too long that it was almost like bacteria built up from what was already in you. I didn't even consider that it was the product itself introducing that bacteria to your body and causing the syndrome. I didn't even know that.
So, you might already have the bacteria. That's true. Some people already have the bacteria. But staph and strep are not very common infections for people to have. And we should also be mindful of the risk of introducing the pathogens into the vaginal environment through the use of tampons, period cups, pads, and all sorts of period products.
Oh, my goodness, I just learned something. For those of you listening, I'm like, raise your hand. Did you know this? Because I feel like that's something that I have never even heard before. I've never even considered the process of sanitation that the product goes through. I just assume, this is clean. It's brand new. It was never been used before.
So, that's really interesting. So, Daye goes through that extra step so that it decreases the chance of that infection, which all day long, I would never want my own daughter to use something different knowing that now. That is incredible.
Yeah, we know because it's in the media. We know that sometimes period care manufacturers have to withdraw batches of their products because of microbial contamination. So, we know that this does happen.
The other thing that we need to be aware of when it comes to tampon manufacturing is because tampons are not considered medical devices and in the US, they're considered a low-class medical device, there's no requirement to produce them in a clean room, which means that you can produce them in an open air facility. There's no requirement for your production operators to be wearing protective clothing.
And this is another thing that we changed in our production facility, we manufacture in an ISO 7 certified clean room. And our production operators wear full-body protective gear, which means that they're not introducing pathogens, which can then enter into the vaginal canal. And toxic shock syndrome is one risk.
Another thing that we need to be aware of is the increased risk of vaginal infection like bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, again, from introducing pathogens from the outside world into the vaginal microbiota through the use of internal period care products like tampons, etc. So, it's not just the risk of toxic shock syndrome that we need to be mindful of. It's the risk of vaginal infections more broadly.
Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. I feel like I jumped us way ahead. And I apologize for that. But that is top of mind because of an experience my friend had recently. But can we back up to how you got into feminine care and these products? And from your educational background, it wouldn't necessarily lean that way that, and now, you're going to go into gynecological products. So, tell us how did that happen? How did your passion lean into creating these products?
I say my passion for gynecological health stems from my personal experiences with women's health issues. I started my first period really young, I was nine. And that was too early for anyone to have had a conversation with me about what to expect and the changes that my body was going to go through. So, I assumed that what I was experiencing wasn't a period, but some a disease and illness that I had to keep secret.
Later on, I started having really painful periods. So, I got placed on oral hormonal contraception, which is still our main line of treatment for period pain. I was really young, I was 11 when I got placed on hormonal contraception because this is the main tool that we have available to us for treating period pain, even though it wasn't designed to treat period pain. It is very effective in some patients. But in other patients, there are side effects. And this is what happened to me. So, due to the early exposure to synthetic hormones, I developed ovarian disease and ovarian cysts, which had to be operated on.
And the entire experience of my gynecological health from a really early age made me feel incredibly disempowered and out of control. So, later on when I was growing up and going through my university degree and starting my professional journey, I always had gynecological health at the back of my mind. It's one of the key areas where you can make a positive impact.
And so, to this day, I think that being in gynecological health is one of the most important things that you can do to advance humanity because over half of the population still don't have access to the diagnostic tools we need, we don't have access to the pain management we need. In general, our symptoms tend to get dismissed and overlooked.
And when it's such a foundational level, you can't look after your physical body in a way that works for you, you're limited then to go out and explore whatever it is that you want to focus on professionally, personally, in your family. So, I feel that one of the greatest injustice in the world today is the state of gynecological health. And I feel really passionately about the limited time that I have as a human being on Earth, I feel is really well-spent advancing our knowledge and understanding of what causes gynecological disease and how best to treat it.
I'm enraptured because I talk to women all the time doing all these different things. And the way that you put that, that over half of our population is dealing with this and what are we doing to fix it and make it, it's like the Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.
If this is not being taken care of, what else are we missing out on because we're in pain or we're not able to manage this and especially outside of countries that even have access to products to help them? So, I'm curious, I noticed that, and I haven't quite had the chance to use this product yet, but you do offer a CBD product as well as your tampons. Tell us more about that. How is that meant to be applied? How often do you use it? What does your research show about cramping for menstrual cycles and how that helps?
Yeah. So, one of our products is a cannabidiol tampon. That was the first product we developed because I had the idea that it would place an active ingredient on the outside of a tampon and then have the top of the tampon be the one that absorbs the menstrual fluid which comes from the cervix further down, and then the sides of the tampon are pressing against the vaginal mucosa. We know that the vaginal mucosa is one of the most absorbent mucosas in the human body.
So, I had the idea to create a two-in-one product which would both absorb your menstrual fluid and release a formulation into the vaginal canal. And I had this idea by researching industrial hemp, which is a plant that's a sister plant to what is commonly known as marijuana or cannabis. But it doesn't contain THC, so it doesn't contain THC to the same levels. It only contains usually trace amounts of THC. You can smoke it, but you're not going to have a euphoric or any other mind-altering effect.
And we know that cannabinoids have some legitimate healthcare uses. When I was first starting Daye in 2017, cannabinoids were a relatively nascent industry. The Farm Bill Act in the US only legalized industrial hemp in 2019. In the UK, industrial hemp was only legalized in 2016. Due to the similarities in the way that the plant looks on the outside, it's very similar to the cannabis plant that contains higher amounts of THC, so they were banned during the war on drugs, and that ban lasted a really long time.
The plants were also banned for research uses, so you had to hold a special license as a researcher if you wanted to look into cannabinoids, extract cannabinoids and conduct clinical research with them. So, our understanding of how different cannabinoids work for different physiological conditions was really limited.
But what we know historically is that cannabinoids have a really rich history of being used to treat female pain. So, dating back to the times of Queen Victoria in the UK, based on the diaries of her physician, we can now deduct that she most probably had endometriosis. She had really painful, really heavy, debilitating menstrual cycles. And something that her physician found to be particularly effective was a hemp tincture, which was administered to her, and you can find that the notes from her physician are still available.
There's now more evidence on the use of cannabinoids in female pain in particular, and some of this evidence I'm proud to say that we have contributed to with our clinical trials, which are published in peer reviewed journals, including the Journal of Endometriosis and Uterine Disorders.
But that's how I had the idea, can we use the hemp plant which we know is very sustainable to create the fibers, the absorbent fibers for the tampon? And then, can we extract cannabinoids from the flower of hemp, and then add them to the same hemp tampon but on the outside? So, we can help people who experience period pain. Gradually through the process of creating this product, we realized not only that it's effective, but that it's also very safe.
So, one of the key considerations in any form of pain management is not just the rate of efficacy, but also the rate of safety. And what we know now because we've helped over 100,000 patients in the UK manage their pain with with the tampon, we know that it works for 80% to 85% of the general population, and that it has a really high safety rate. So, we have a range of clinically significant outcomes that's much, much lower than the rate of clinically significant outcomes for prescription painkillers and over-the-counter painkillers.
The other thing that's really interesting about cannabinoids, everything that you insert vaginally has the potential to disrupt your vaginal microbiota. Your vaginal microbiota is the balance of good and bad bacteria. It's how your vagina is self cleaning. And a healthy vaginal microbiome means that you're naturally protected against vaginal infections and STIs. So, maintaining a healthy vaginal microbiome is really important.
And a lot of medications that are administered vaginally, including hormonal replacement therapy, can have the potential to disrupt the vaginal microbiome. One of the most interesting things about cannabinoids and the particular formulation we're using because that's what we've tested and that's what I can speak to you, they don't disrupt the good bacteria. They don't increase the risk of toxic shock syndrome, and they don't increase the levels of bad bacteria or pathogens. So, yes, this is one of our products.
That's amazing. So, not all of your tampons have that added layer. That's only some of them, correct?
We also have a nude tampon, which is our organic cotton tampon, which comes with a sleeve that protects the absorbent fibers of the tampons so that they don't stay inside your vagina. Tampon fiber shedding is another common issue with tampon products that is not spoken about sufficiently.
Whether you're using organic tampons or non-organic tampons, they have a high likelihood of shedding pieces of fiber from the absorbing core, which then gradually build up and stay inside your vaginal canal where they become the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and infections, which is why anecdotally we know that a lot of people experience vaginal infections after their cycle, after they've used tampons or other insertable period care products.
But, yes, we have a nude tampon, which comes with this protective sleeve, it's sanitized to reduce the risk of toxic shock syndrome and vaginal infections. It comes with a flushable tampon wrapper, which means that we reduce plastic waste and that it's easy for you to just dispose of your packaging if you're at a place that doesn't have a bin and a sugarcane applicator as well to further reduce petrol-derived plastic waste.
Wow. That is so innovative. That's incredible. So, I feel like we need to back up again. So, now, you have this idea. You're really passionate about this, you want to remedy the product quality as well as education for period care and vaginal care.
How did you get started? You said that you had mentioned think tanks that that was something that you were a part of. Was it something like an assignment you were working on that then became the business? Or how did you launch the business, and how were you able to get it up off the ground?
I actually had the idea for a pain-relieving tampon while doing an MBA course. So, because we had to research a specific industry, and I chose research industrial hemp. But, no, I wasn't part of the think tank when I was founding Daye.
And initially, what I did is I created the first prototypes, because I had a lot of intellectual curiosity around, okay, how can this work? Will it work? Would it work on me if I tried it? Would it work on my friends? So, I set about trying to understand a lot about fiber weaving, design of tampons. How can you add an active ingredient to something that's already very absorbent? What is the best way to apply a film or coating on the outside of the tampon?
And for the first year of working on Daye, I just did all of these experiments by myself on my kitchen table. Just lots of reverse engineering how tampons are made and learning about fibers, non-wovens, pharmaceutical formulations, how to apply pharmaceutical formulations to non-woven, etc.
And then gradually, after I started using the tampon prototypes on myself and I found relief, I started sharing them with my friends. My friends experienced relief as well. And then, I decided to take a risk and invest in clinical trials. So, keep in mind that I founded Daye when I was 22. So, I had a really high tolerance rate for personal financial risk.
So, I found the clinical trial facility that agreed to let me fund my clinical trial on monthly credit card. Just fees, bills, whatever. And, yes, so I funded the initial product development and cleaning validation this way, also filed for a patent, started building our supply chain. And then gradually, I had built enough of what could be considered a viable pre-seed stage business idea. And that's when I started approaching outside investors. So, I did that throughout 2018. And then at the end of 2018, I was able to find funding for Daye and leave my job.
And was that difficult? I talk to different business owners, especially female-founded companies. Funding from what I understand is extremely difficult. Did you have a difficult time getting funding or having people buy into this idea, or what was your experience like?
Yes, I had a very difficult time fundraising, and I think we'll continue having a really difficult time fundraising. The statistics speak for themselves, less than 2% of venture capital, which is a private form of capital investment for startups, goes to female-found companies, less than 1% of public funding goes to gynecological health, less than 1% of private funding goes to gynecological health.
So, in terms of the pools of capital that are available for a female-founded gynecological health company, they're very small. In addition to this, there is usually a certain type of founder persona that tends to get funding. And in most cases, those are people that went to Ivy League schools or other prestigious universities in Europe, there are people that work in consulting, and there are people that have a lot of connections with the finance industry.
I'm neither of these things. I'm an Eastern European immigrants. So, I don't necessarily fit the bill of this as a fundable founder. But I feel really passionate about the work that we're doing. And I feel really passionate about ensuring that we have enough resources to invest in the research that we need in order to create the products that are necessary in the world today. So, I'm sure we'll always find a way.
Yeah. Oh, my gosh, you have so much gumption. I'm so inspired by you. Okay. So, you have this funding your work, you're moving forward with manufacturing. Was that difficult to find? Can you tell us about roadblocks or stumbling blocks that you got through before you were able to distribute it?
Yeah, manufacturing was a really key hurdle. I didn't initially expect that we were going to have to do manufacturing in house, I thought that we were going to be able to find an outside external manufacturer to work with and just partner with them.
But then, for manufacturing is one of the last greatly monopolized industries out there. And everyone uses the same machines in the same facility. And there's very little interest in doing things differently or changing our production flows because tampons are a low gross margin product. And in general, consumers want to keep tampon prices as low as possible. So, there's no room for sustainability improvements, performance improvements, material science innovation.
So, when I was first fundraising, I didn't realize we were going to have to bring manufacturing in house. And that was a key hurdle for us and continues to be a really big pain point within the business. We're really fortunate now to have an incredible team of design engineers, female design engineers, who are very passionate about the work that we're doing and are just incredibly talented.
But in 2019, when we first set about creating a pilot manufacturing facility, it was me and two other people in the business. Neither of us had any background in design engineering or machine automation or manufacturing. And we didn't hold a lot of credibility in design engineering circles, which similarly to the VC environment, which is a private member's club, design engineering is a private member's club. So, it was really hard to convince design engineers to try and work with us and to try and help advance Daye's mission.
But we now have a semi-automated facility in Bulgaria, which is where I'm from. We're manufacturing our products. And we're continuously developing new machines and new manufacturing methodologies. So, things are working now. But this was one of the biggest pain points within the company's history.
Yeah, I can only imagine. It's such a unique product and new approach to the product making, I would imagine that would be extremely difficult. I would love to hear some of the payoff stories of maybe reactions that you're getting from your client base or consumers that are using this and having their lives changed for the better.
Yeah. And if I'm ever having a moment of doubt or if I'm ever feeling particularly tired or just questioning my life choices, I love to go on our Trustpilot reviews page or to read some of the feedback from clinical trials or post-market surveillance. And the stories are just so inspiring and fill my heart with joy. We often get asked, "Where was this 20 years ago? Why did I spend the last 30 years in pain?"
People shared that they're finally able to get out of bed when they're on their period to stop using prescription painkillers or to stop taking too many over-the-counter painkillers. We also have a diagnostic tampon that we developed last year, which enables people to get screened for vaginal infections and sexually transmitted infections from the comfort of their home. So, we get a lot of feedback of, "I'm finally able to understand the root cause of these persistent vaginal symptoms that I've been having."
Recently, we had this super sad and painful customer story where one of our customers had what she and her doctor thought for a very long time was bacterial vaginosis for 10 years, just it keeps coming back, and her sex life's massively impacted.
So, explain that a little bit more. Can you say what the condition is and what the symptoms are? Just so if people aren't familiar.
Yeah. So, bacterial vaginosis is a vaginal infection. It's very common. About one in five women will have it at some point in their life, it's perfectly treatable with antibiotics or antifungals. And it causes burning, itching, swelling of the vulva, an unusual smell, painful sex, painful urination, abdominal pain, pelvic pain, and it can really be a debilitating condition.
But this customer of ours turns out actually had a different pathogen that was causing similar symptoms. She she had ureaplasma, not bacterial vaginosis. So, what was happening to her for 10 years because most doctors, when they see a vaginal infection, they think, it's a yeast infection or it's bacterial vaginosis. Those are the most common ones.
And until COVID, PCR testing was really expensive. So, we couldn't affordably screen the vaginal microbiome of patients to identify the exact pathogen that's causing their symptoms. Now, after COVID, these technologies are a lot more affordable. So, companies like Daye can bring them to patients.
And this customer for 10 years couldn't have sex, couldn't exercise. At some point, her symptoms became so bad she couldn't walk. And she kept being dismissed by different physicians who said, "It's in your head, you're making it up. It's not that bad." She kept being overprescribed antibiotics for bacterial vaginosis, even though she didn't have it.
And her last doctor's appointment, her physician gave her antidepressants for her vaginal infection, because he was convinced that she was making it up and that you are just depressed. And then, she got screened with Daye. She found out the pathogen that was causing her symptoms. She obtained treatment. And now, she's symptom free, her partner is symptom free, and she has her entire life back.
Oh, my word. That's incredible. Now, when you say bacteria vaginosis, I think that's what we would call a UTI, or a urinary tract infection. Same or different?
It's a difference. So, a urinary tract infection is in your urethra.
Okay, which I get, but I'm like, I don't know that I've ever heard it called bacteria vaginosis. I just am not familiar with that term.
You may have heard that it's BV, BV infection.
Yeah. Okay. That makes a lot of sense. Oh, my gosh, I cannot believe and what makes me really upset is that females are not believed in so many different circumstances and that it's seen as something emotional when it's very physical. So, to take away that autonomy of us knowing our own bodies and looking for answers, not being able to find them or be believed, that is so degrading. So, the fact that your products can help women to feel that control of knowing and having access to answers is incredible.
No, you can't manifest a vaginal infection. You either have it or you don't, and no one enjoys being dragged from one doctor's office to the next seeking answers. This whole idea that women are so attention hungry that we love to roll hypochondriacs and hysterics and we love to go to doctor's offices for the fun of it, this whole myth needs to be debunked.
Amen. Say it louder for those in the back. I just got actually done reading a book. I'm curious if you've read this because a lot of it has to do with culture, but also Eastern medicine. And I'm looking it up on Audible. So, I don't get it wrong right now. But it's talking about women's health, specifically from Chinese culture back in the 1600s, 1700s.
And I learned a lot about the way that they treated women and their menstrual cycles, babies, postmenopausal. Now, let me make sure I see. I have to go into my finished section. It's called Lady Tan's Circle of Women. So, that's Lady, and then her name is Tan, T-A-N, Lady Tan's Circle of Women. And it talks about the way that women were treated and diagnosed back then was that doctors would talk to them through a sheet and not even look or see or even know what was actually going on with the women, where it was actually the women of that time that were helping to heal and take care of women because there was such a divide of believing, trusting, and even treating these women. I think you would really enjoy that book.
Thank you. I'll make a note of it.
You're welcome. I think you'd like that. And I'll link it below in the show notes. So, you are empowering so many women. You said I only have so long. What is it that you hope to achieve in the length of your journey? What's next for you and for Daye?
I want us to have helped make a tangible dent in the gender healthcare gap. Ideally, by the end of my life, I really wish to have made significant contributions to the eradication of the gender healthcare gap, I want us to help bring the world closer to gender parity, in diagnostics, in pain management.
Even heart disease, which is one of the leading causes of mortality in women, it so frequently gets misdiagnosed in women, because the symptoms we are trained to look for and to recognize as the symptoms of heart disease are those that show up in the male physiology, not in the female physiology.
And I really hope that Daye can create the environment for really accessible, affordable, digestible gynecological health information, insights, products and services so that being born in a female body and having a female physiology doesn't have to restrict what you choose to do with your time and your life in the way that it does now.
Particularly professionally, we don't talk enough about the professional cost of having endometriosis, period pain, menopause, vaginal infections. There's a real economic cost here, but because female pain is so trivialized since we were little girls, we're taught that you should just grit your teeth and get on with it and pain is normal. And it's part of being a woman, and it's all preparing you for child labor. And if you can't bear your period pain, how are you going to deliver a baby, and all of these things? I really wish to de trivialize female pain and to create an environment where it's just not tolerated.
Yeah. I love that. I saw a comedian actually talking about period pain and saying something to the effect of the amount of pain that we endure or can endure during a period can be worse or similar to a heart attack. And so, where we are taught to dismiss or work through or show up anyway can be really detrimental to women's health because we do brush aside, we do work through it, we dismiss it. So, I think that that education piece of really acknowledging what it is and how to be able to provide solution is huge.
Yeah. No, that's an actual study from University College London from 2016. They demonstrated the period pain can be as painful as having a heart attack.
Yep, there it is. There it is. So, I'd love to know, as a CEO, oh, my goodness, you are operating a huge, huge company right now, how are you able to manage all of the things, taking care of yourself as well as building this incredible company?
So, this is a bit controversial. But I think one of the biggest lies that we're told as women is that you can have it all, I don't think you can have it all at the same time. I think you can have it all in different periods of your life. And I'm currently in the period of my life where I'm fully dedicated to my professional life and helping close the gender healthcare gap.
So, I'm not a prime example of work-life balance. I'm also a single founder, which makes things harder. If I had a partner in the business, some of the responsibilities would have been split. But, yeah, that's something that I feel really passionately about just debunking the myth that you should have it all at the same time and have a perfect workout schedule and always be properly hydrated and get eight hours of sleep while also running company and being a researcher, and just you have different seasons and different periods in your life. And at the end when you look back on your life, hopefully the sum of it will have felt like you had the opportunity to experience it all. But I don't think we can have it all at the same time.
Yeah. What is a non-negotiable for you when resetting yourself?
The most helpful thing that I have found is this protocol of cold and hot exposure. And I just find it to be so incredibly helpful for stress management, and it just fills me with endorphins. So, what I do is I find a really cold, cold plunge, but it has to be freezing cold. And I do 10 minutes in the cold plunge, 20 minutes in a really hot sauna, but the sauna has to be over 90 degrees Celsius. And then, I repeat that four times, and I feel like someone has taken a microfiber towel and just polished every single one of my cells.
And mentally, there is a lot of research, which shows that exposing your physiology to controlled adversity helps your body deal better with stress, and really cold, cold temperatures and really hot, hot temperatures are exactly that, they're controlled adversity, which then I try to do that every Saturday. And when I proceed with the rest of my week, I feel like my body and my mind deal better with stress and actual uncontrolled adversity.
Yeah. I heard that from someone too where they said that they would do a really cold shower in the morning to prove that they can do something really hard. And then the rest of the day seems easy, which I thought was an interesting way of looking at it. So, with this cold plunge, do you go someplace that offers that, or do you have it at your home, or how do you facilitate that?
On a founder's salary, you can't have a cold plunge in your home. I try to have a wellness routine in every city that I live in because I have to travel very frequently for work. And something that helps me adapt to the new city and adapt to the changes, now, I have a gym studio that I like in every city that I go to. I find a hot sauna in every city that I go to. And I try and replicate the routine regardless of where I am in the world.
I like that. How clever to come up with something like that, that you can repeat no matter where you are. I think that that is key to success is finding something that's adaptable, but also specific to really fueling you. I love that. Would you say that you are where you thought you'd be when you started? Looking back from where you started to where you are now, do you look back and go, wow, how did I get here? Or do you think, this has been faster, slower? How does it look for you?
I'd say both. I think we're further ahead in a lot of ways than I thought we would be particularly around the cycles of product development and the realization of this comprehensive vision that I had for a full spectrum gynecological health platform. I didn't think that we would have made it this far on product development.
Which is crazy. That drives me crazy. So, do you work with influencers? Do you work with content creators? Has that been a channel that's been successful for you?
But then in other areas, particularly around growing our customer base, it has taken us a lot longer than I anticipated. And one of the biggest hurdles that we and every gynecological health company face is that we can't advertise our products on traditional channels like Meta, Google, X. Our content frequently gets categorized as adult or political content. So, it's really hard to read the consumers.
We mostly currently invest in education-first marketing. So, if you have been on our website, you will have seen we have a blog called Vitals, which provides digestible information about gynecological health. We do the same on TikTok and our other social media channels like Instagram. So, we try to add value to the different streams of social media conversations.
One of our key values is that you shouldn't need a medical degree to understand the workings of your body. So, we feel really strongly that we can contribute to the social media presence of the world by providing access to really important facts about cervical cancer screening or menopause, breastfeeding, the vaginal microbiome, etc., in a really digestible and understandable way. So, that's what we're currently mostly focusing on marketing-wise and organic and word of mouth.
Smart. I can't wait to talk about it organically, I think that your product is far superior to anything I've heard even available. So, that's so exciting. One question that I always end the conversation with in 2024 is, and I didn't prep you, so I hope it's not too hard, but can you think of three things that you're either listening to, reading, or watching that you're loving right now? It could be a favorite that you've had forever, or it could be something you're watching or reading or listening to currently.
I love these types of questions. Listening to, I love This American Life, the podcast. What an amazing podcast. I am so grateful that this podcast exists. And I can't wait until every Monday when it gets released. And I recently discovered their entire archive. I love it, just the radio theater style of it. It's my favorite podcast.
And then, in terms of something that I'm watching, it's a bit embarrassing, but I recently discovered this series on Netflix called Trial by Media. And it's about all of these really embarrassing public scandals in the US from the 80s and 90s and the way that they played out in the media and the way that really clever lawyers try to sway the jury in the actual court process.
OJ Simpson, that's who I'm thinking of immediately.
Yeah, they didn't cover him, but they covered Rod Blagojevich. I don't know if you know him, but he's a person who apparently tried to sell Barack Obama's seat in Chicago, when Barack Obama got elected to be president. I don't know.
I like this.
Yeah, very cool.
And then, in terms of what I'm reading, let me just open my Kindle. I recently inhaled Dolly Alderton's new book. Do you know Dolly Alderton?
I don't. Is it a memoir, though, because I love memoirs?
It's not a memoir, but it's like very realistic fiction. So, the book is called Good Material. And it details a breakup of a long-term relationship from the perspective of a guy. So, it goes quite deep into his inner psychological life. And then, only at the end of the book, do you get the perspective of the female partner in the relationship. Yeah, I inhaled this book over the weekend.
I like it. What was the title of it again? It cut out a little bit, I think.
Good Material by Dolly Alderton.
Okay, perfect. That's so cool. Have you heard of Imagined Life? It's on Wondery.
Okay. That's one of my favorite podcasts. And what it does is it tells the story as if you are that person. And then at the end, you find out who you are. But it's like a famous person, actor, person of influence, politician. It could be any of those things. So, you listen to their story but being told as if you are that person. And then at the end, you find out who the person is, which is really cool.
Very interesting. Okay. Thank you. It's by Wondery, right?
Okay, I've followed it.
Perfect. This has been so fun. I feel like you have been so forthcoming with your research and your passion and everything that you've done to bring this product to the world. And I'm so excited to talk about it more with my friends and family. I'm sure those who are listening feel the same way. Where can other people find you, listen to you, and support you online?
We are on www.yourdaye.com, and our social media handle is @yourdaye. That's yourdaye.
Perfect. Thanks again. I really appreciate it.
Thank you for having me. And thank you for giving gynecological health a platform.
Thank you so much for listening to this episode. Every like, rating, and review is a huge help to us. Make sure that you are subscribed, so you never miss a weekly episode. Thank you so much for tuning in. And I'd love to chat with you on social. You can connect with me @camillewalker.co on Instagram and TikTok or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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