MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Giving menopause a makeover
Caria is breaking down taboos to help millions of women.
Caria: Menopause & Midlife
Find answers, support, relief
Half the population goes through the menopause. So, it seems incredible that until now there has been a dearth of technology devoted to this time in women’s lives.
This was what Arfa Rehman and Scott Gorman thought when they founded Caria, an app for helping women manage their menopause symptoms.
“There have been a lot of advancements in femtech, focusing on fertility and menstrual health. But it’s as though people have forgotten that menstruation stops,” explains Rehman.
“There are 12 million women going through menopause in the UK, 50 million in the US and there’s nothing out there to help them manage their health and wellness. That’s just crazy,” says Rehman. “That’s why we knew the health challenge we wanted to tackle was menopause.”
Caria is a beautifully designed tool for menopausal women of any age. You can use it to record your symptoms, find therapeutic techniques and gather insights into how you’re feeling over time.
You can also get one-to-one coaching sessions via video or voice call in the app. Dieticians, fitness trainers and life coaches are on hand to help with your physical and mental wellness.
As Rehman explains: “Research shows that the hormonal changes women go through during menopause put us at higher risk of Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and even depression.” Caria gives insights with expert advice on these health concerns.
There are more than 40 physical and mental symptoms of menopause and it could affect you for up to 15 years. You can log any of 43 symptoms in Caria (and any triggers you notice causing them), including everything from “Burning Tongue” to “Internal Buzzing”.
“Menopause has a very big impact on women’s ability to work and their personal lives. It can be a really disruptive period of life,” says Rehman.
All of this compelled Gorman and Rehman to create a menopause app, after meeting on an Oxford University MBA course.
Rehman, who hails from India by way of Saudi Arabia, was awarded the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford. Gorman, from Vermont in the US, serves as a reservist in the US military alongside working in startups.
In fact, of the nine months spent building Caria, Gorman spent five on deployment in Afghanistan. The duo would have to speak whenever possible to work on the app – most often at unsociable hours – while Rehman was moving between tech hubs in the UK and the US.
This is far from the only challenge the pair has faced bringing Caria to life.
“I have a few things going against me,” says Rehman. “I have the female founder of colour and immigrant thing... I am undermined a bit because of how I look and who I am. Then I say I’m working on women’s health. I have heard older men say, ‘I just don’t think this is a serious enough issue.’”
Indeed, they had to break down a lot of preconceptions. The first was always that menopause affects “old” women who wouldn’t use apps. “These women are Generation X,” says Gorman. “They use their phones much more than people imagine.”
Rehman points out, “There is no ‘type’ of woman who goes through menopause. You can go through it at any age, for example due to a medical procedure.”
Instead of hitting at retirement age, “Menopause often strikes at the height of a woman’s power in her career, plus they are often taking care of their parents and children at the same time,” says Gorman.
“Something we hear all the time is, ‘I’m a very busy woman,’” adds Rehman. “Women want something they can access right away.”
To cater for this, Caria has a “Quick Relief” section on the Home tab, with audio guides designed to help with some of the most common symptoms including hot flashes, insomnia or anxiety attacks.
A lot of the content on Caria is based on cognitive behavioural therapy techniques, which help bring symptoms under control. You can compare how you feel from day to day and become aware of helpful behaviours or activities.
“We need to start thinking more positively about ageing, because we’re all doing it,” says Rehman. “If tools exist to support women, maybe they can start to feel less anxious about entering this period of their lives.” Thanks to Caria, that’s now possible. As Rehman says, “We’re redesigning the menopause.”