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Birth control pills. Photo: BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

A new Seattle-based company is using genetic screening to match women with hormonal contraception that minimizes the risk of side effects.

Why it matters: A poorly matched birth control prescription can lead to dangerous side effects like blood clots and depression.

  • Analyzing a patient's genetic makeup can help users find the right method without resorting to costly trial and error.

How it works: Seattle-based adyn is developing an at-home kit that enables users to collect saliva and finger-prick blood samples, which the company can then analyze to measure hormone baseline levels and assess genetic risks for blood clots and depression.

  • adyn then creates a personalized medical bio and will be able to send the results to a physician who can prescribe through a telehealth visit a hormonal birth control that minimizes the risks of side effects.
  • "The problem right now is that doctors can't easily predict who is going to have what kind of side effects," says Elizabeth Ruzzo, a geneticist and the founder and CEO of adyn. "We're trying to empower both the providers and the patients in making the best decision with the most information they can have at their disposal."

By the numbers: While nearly 6 million women in the U.S. use oral contraceptives, use among women ages 15–44 dropped from 16% between 2011 and 2015 to 14% between 2015 and 2017.

The big picture: adyn is a product of the intersection of two major medical trends: the continuing drop in the cost of genetic sequencing and the rise of at-home diagnostics.

What to watch: adyn's test is currently in the pilot phase, but Ruzzo hopes to move to wider access — with coverage by insurance — soon.

Go deeper

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
Oct 9, 2021 - Health

A generational shift on women's health

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

When it comes to women's health, Americans — and the advertisers that market to them — are getting blunter.

What's happening: Women's health is undergoing a generational cultural change. Younger women talk more openly about their periods and sexual health concerns — and more companies are marketing to them with messages that women only whispered about a few years ago.

Women's heart disease risk rises with COVID

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The pandemic may have put millions of more women — particularly young women — unknowingly on track for heart disease complications.

Driving the news: Several studies have emerged in the past year sounding alarms on how pandemic stressors like the increasingly difficult work-life balance, caregiving burdens and social isolation have left women bearing the brunt of this epidemic.

Fed signals it could yank economic support quicker as inflation sticks around

Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell testifies during a hearing before Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee today. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Federal Reserve will consider pulling back economic support sooner "as the threat of persistently high inflation has grown," chair Jerome Powell said during a congressional hearing on Tuesday.

Why it matters: This is the biggest signal yet the Fed is backing away from its stance that soaring prices would be fleeting — a change that could shift its policies that underpin the economy.