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Let's talk about evidence-based vaginal health care with Pomcare!

By Sonia Byun (she/her), Interviewed by Ruby Moon (she/her) from Team August | 8.31.2022

What if you had access to gynecological answers from the palm of your hand? Meet Pomcare.

We’re here to introduce you to a founder of Pomcare, a virtual clinic working to provide evidence-based vaginal healthcare.

Introduce yourself! Who are you & what do you do?

Hi! I’m Sonia (she/her), a founder of Pomcare, a virtual clinic for sexual, reproductive, and vaginal health.

I’m originally from South Korea and have been living in the States since high school, meaning that I have been experiencing the broken healthcare system in the US from 16 years old.

I’ve founded Pomcare about a year and a half ago now. It’s still an early stage so most of my time is spent on developing concepts, testing out concepts with potential users, and iterating concepts based on user feedback. My background is in user research so this part of my job feels natural to me.

How does menstruation exist in your life?

Growing up in South Korea, I never felt comfortable talking about my sexual, reproductive, and vaginal health.

I’m 33 and I feel like I just got a hang of menstruation – I wouldn’t say it’s perfect though.

I’m happy that I’m figuring out what my optimal pad-tampon combo is to prevent leaks, how often to change my period products, and how my PMS symptoms prior to period could make me feel.

That being said, every menstrual cycle still seems slightly different, even after 18 years. I often even struggle to sleep deeply during my period because of potential leaks at night.

Do you have a funny, interesting or even heart-breaking period story?

I’m in my 30s and I feel like I just figured out how to insert tampons correctly. My junior year high school self definitely had no idea. I would just put one in and hope for the best.

It was the second day of my period and, at this time, I’d get really heavy bleeding. I could feel the blood clots coming out of me during this history class (just imagine if giant oysters are coming out of you). I knew my period was leaking. The class was over, and I just sat in the same chair until everyone left.

Then, I confessed to my history teacher that my period blood was likely all over my pants and on the chair. I could tell she was slightly panicked but was trying her best to make me feel okay about it.

She gave me her jacket to wrap around my waist so I could walk back to my dorm. I was ashamed that I made her feel uncomfortable but grateful at the same time that it was her, not a non-menstruating teacher. We never talked about it again after we left the room and cleaned that chair.

A few months ago, I revisited my high school. I saw her and she remembered me after 15 years (wow!)

I told her about starting a company to support vaginal health. Then, I also thanked her for how she handled the situation 15 years ago. She said she always wondered if she reacted to it well and that I was not scarred by it. I almost teared up thinking – this whole time, she was worried about how I felt at that time.

So I guess this story is heart-breaking but heart-warming at the same time.

How did you find your passion and purpose?

I was introduced to healthcare during my post-MBA consulting job.

Meeting patients and caregivers, hearing about their challenges, developing solutions grounded in their needs all influenced my passion towards improving human lives.

I truly believe that our job as a human is to make the world a better place for the future generation. Better healthcare seems to be an obvious way to improve human lives.

What inspired you and ignited your passion for starting Pomcare?

My inspiration was personal.

I had vaginal infections and health conditions like recurring yeast infections and UTIs throughout my 20s. I got so tired of going to urgent care every time I thought something was off, especially considering the service.

It takes an average three weeks to make a gynecologist appointment in the US. The average doctor’s appointments are only 15 minutes long – not enough time for telling the full context, asking questions, and feeling heard.

I always wished I had an easy way to ask a quick question to a medical provider, find out what is going on, and learn the best next steps.

I also noticed that there are at-home tests for STIs and Vaginitis that we could easily use at home, and these aren’t easily accessible.

So, I started Pomcare to offer accessible, approachable, and comprehensive virtual care for sexual, reproductive, and vaginal health. I want to let people know that there are tools available for us to take control of our vaginal health!

In one sentence, how would you describe the brand or the brand’s mission/vision?

Our mission is to help people take control of their vaginal health.

Why do you think access to sexual, reproductive, and vaginal health education is essential?

Economically, women spend twice as more in healthcare because of our reproductive health needs. So yes, we should learn about what is costing us money.

But there are other reasons.

Vaginal health conditions are a normal part of being a human with a vagina.

  • Often, you aren’t really equipped to know what to do until you experience a vaginal health issue. For example, 75% of people with a uterus will experience yeast infections at least once in their lifetime.

Education empowers you to advocate for your health.

  • Medical gaslighting is when you speak up about something going on with you but it isn’t taken seriously or significant. For example, symptoms that could be signs of endometriosis and polycystic ovaries (PCOS) are often disregarded.

Pomcare aims to tune into every condition, symptom, and context of users. We want to equip you with knowledge so that you can make the most out of that 15 minute appointment.

Without proper education, you may feel scared or overwhelmed when things don’t seem right.

  • Let’s say you experience abnormal vaginal discharge or odor: you may immediately think of STIs but, without comprehensive understanding of your vagina, you may not know about non-STI conditions that could be contributing to these symptoms.

Through Pomcare, you can connect with a medical professional instantly to ask any questions. What we are hoping for is for you to have peace of mind.

Education can help us find proper treatment and care.

  • There is a lot of misinformation out there about how to take care of your vagina. For example, 1 in 5 women in the US are women who douche. Vaginal douching can result in disrupting your vaginal flora.

That’s just one example. All in all, We should be demanding evidence-based care!

Why does August resonate with you?

What I love most about August is its community.

August's community is authentic, engaged, and inclusive.

I love that August originated from raising questions around periods and period care. It is a company with a mission. It’s not just trying to add to the noise.

Personally, I was delightfully surprised by how open August is to partner with an early stage founder like me. I appreciate the mindset of ‘let’s do it together’ and August’s openness to collaborate with like-minded brands.

What advice would you give to younger menstruators out there?

If you are already on itsaugust.co reading about me, you are already invested in making lives better for others.

I believe changes happen over time and sometimes we even go backwards. The path to make impact or change is not linear. So, I believe being an optimist helps push for changes and make consistent efforts.

It’s hard to be persistent and believe in what you are doing even through hard times, but that’s what’s required to make a real change. I’m practicing it as well!

Pomcare is currently doing the beta testing.

  • You can connect with a medical professional (e.g., physician assistant, nurse practitioner specialized in gynecology) via chat and ask any questions about sexual, reproductive, and vaginal health.
  • If you are in California, you can get an at-home test for Vaginal Health (bacterial vaginosis, recurrent yeast infections, and trichomoniasis), telehealth consultation, and UTI prescriptions.
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