After having suffered from bad period cramps, Nanette Sene is on a mission to ensure no woman has to miss out on daily activities just because of her cycle.
Her work to develop a cutting-edge, wearable device that combines heat with microelectronics to quickly relieve muscle cramps and menstrual pain, has earned the Montrealer a prestigious award and $5,000 from Mitacs, a national innovation organization that fosters growth by solving business challenges with research solutions from academic institutions.
“Menstrual pain (dysmenorrhea) is a widespread problem affecting 80% of women globally, leading to lost productivity and absenteeism, and yet very few researchers are tackling it,” said Sene in a press release, Her extensive work showed that although there are many studies on women’s moods during their menstrual cycles, only 0.1% of scientific articles deal with the issue of pain.
Frustrated by the lack of modern and effective solutions currently available, which typically range from bulky plug-in heating pads or microwavable compresses, to over-the-counter or prescription anti-inflammatory medications, to the birth control pill, Sene and co-founder Lynn Doughane decided to take matters into their own hands.
Their first-of-its-kind wearable device is rechargeable, offers long-lasting relief and most importantly, is comfortable to wear under clothing. It discreetly adheres to the pelvic area of the abdomen, using microelectronics to relax the muscles and block pain signals from traveling to the brain.
“We are creating a solution for something that directly affects us, so we really understand users and have them in mind with every decision we make,” said Sene in the same release. “We wouldn’t bring something to market that we wouldn’t use ourselves.”
Less than a year after launching Juno, named for the Roman goddess that symbolizes women’s health, fertility and childbirth, Sene is on track to have a working prototype ready next month. The company will launch its first tests involving 30 to 50 female patients in Lebanon (Doughane’s native country) shortly afterward, and is working on FDA and Health Canada approval as a class II medical device, with the goal of having a commercial product ready for market by the end of 2024.
“We’ve tested it on ourselves and our friends. Now it’s about making sure the positive results we’re seeing apply to a larger population as well,” said Sene.