4 Indian Startups Fighting for Menstrual Hygiene Awareness

4 Indian Startups Fighting for Menstrual Hygiene Awareness

India’s views on menstruation are slowly but surely changing, as people start to understand its health significance to menstruators.

Tech startups and the innovation they bring to various industries have been the center of attention in the business world. However, one sector often goes overlooked: menstrual hygiene products. 

In India, many of those who menstruate don’t have access to proper period hygiene products. This has led to a number of problems, from girls missing school during their periods to widespread infection due to a lack of sanitary facilities. Poor menstrual hygiene can lead to several health problems, including urinary tract infections (UTIs), pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and even infertility among women. In light of this, a new crop of Indian startups is advocating for menstrual hygiene awareness and access to quality, sustainable period products for all menstruators in India. 

Top feminine hygiene startups in India 

1. PeeSafe

FemTech startup Pee Safe is on a road to help women understand what they need to know to cope with their own varying and individual needs. Founded by husband-wife duo, Vikas and Srijana Bagaria in 2017, PeeSafe has come a long way since its launch. The company started with a single product—the toilet seat sanitizer—to help women minimize the chance of contracting UTIs when using public bathrooms. Now, it has ventured into other areas pertaining to women’s health as well as other personal care products. The menstrual hygiene products it produces include menstrual cups, reusable pads, biodegradable panty liners, intimate wash and organic cotton tampons. 

To raise people’s awareness about basic menstrual hygiene facilities, the company has worked with 120+ organizations and 50+ ambassadors as well as 300+ Menstruation Hygiene Drives around the world. So far, through one of their product line Raho Safe, the company has reached half a million people through their campaigns, like #HaqSePeriod, which emphasizes on every woman’s right to safe and clean products; and #MenBuyPads, which aims to break the taboo around men buying pads. In December 2020, Raho Safe distributed educational booklets and 864 free sanitary pads to over 60 inmates of Neemka, District Jail Faridabad.

On the business front: The startup currently offers PeeSafe hygiene products (such as toilet seat spray, toilet seat covers, intimate wash, reusable sanitary pads and panty liners) in around 20,000 stores, and it is looking to increase to 50,000 stores by the next year or so. In terms of a long-term plan, they are looking for Rs 500 Cr (US$62 million) revenue and possibly going for an IPO by 2025!

2. Sanfe

Imagine being in the throes of abdominal cramps on a day when you have to study for your semester exams, but there are no relief options available because it’s something that only women experience. This is what led the founders of Sanfe to explore how they can help fill this gap by debunking the stigma associated with periods and designing products to relieve menstrual cramps. In May 2018, Archit Aggarwal and Harry Sehrawat launched Sanfe with two products: a roll-on to relieve period cramps and Stand And Pee, a device that allows women to urinate without squatting. Since then, the company has expanded its period product portfolio across reusable sanitary pads, menstrual cups, tampons and more. Sanfe, like other FemTech brands, sensed the need to cater to Indian females in a taboo- and stigma-free manner. The company has been targeting Gen Z and millennials who live in an ever-changing world. And with their product line, the company is focused on educating and increasing awareness of menstrual hygiene in the coming years. 

On the business front: After raising US$1 million in Series A funding last year, cofounder Sehrawat said they planned on scaling up business by building their portfolio of products and focusing on customer experience improvement as well as problem-solving efforts. “There are other investment opportunities we will be exploring. A lot of things are going on in the backend, and we hope to share the details soon,” said Sehrawat. 

3. Heyday 

Heyday is a sustainable and eco-friendly brand founded in 2017 by Deepanjali Kanoria. Beginning with four units of regular and heavy sanitary pads, the company has expanded its product offerings to include panty liners, overnight pads and menstrual cups. The company produces 100% natural menstrual hygiene products manufactured using plant fiber weaves with zero toxins or chemicals. Their sanitary napkins are made from corn and bamboo fiber. The top sheet is designed in a way that it does not block airflow to your vagina like regular pads! These eco-friendly products also start decomposing six months after disposal. 

Apart from offering eco-friendly products, the company also aims to normalize menstruation and give women the empowerment they require. To do this, they have collaborated with Okhai, a sustainable fashion brand committed to providing employment opportunities for rural women artisans, to celebrate women in society through the #WeAreEqual initiative since 2020. “Every time one of you participates in the initiative with us, we will provide a Heyday natural sanitary napkin to the tribal artisans of Okhai to increase awareness about safe and sustainable menstrual practices. Let’s join hands to give every woman her right to succeed,” said the founder. 

On the business front: According to their official website, the company has introduced its product lines in over 300 stores both offline and online, including Amazon, Nykaa, Flipkart, Firstcry and 1MG. 

4. Sirona Hygiene 

This is another Indian FemTech startup that is seeking to break the stigma around intimate female hygiene with its offerings. Founded by 38-year-old Deep Bajaj in 2015, Sirona Hygiene introduced the first stand and pee device (PeeBuddy) in India. Sirona has been at the forefront of innovation with feminine products, such as menstrual cups in a range of sizes, menstrual cup washes and sterilizers as well as biodegradable period pain relief patches, which are not only fashionable but also effective against chafing rashes caused by periods. “The necessity for a company that tackles the issues of menstrual and feminine hygiene has presented itself several times across the years. We are glad that Sirona has been solving these issues through innovative products that bridge the gap,” said Dubai’s Chairman of NB Ventures Neelesh Bhatnagar, an investor of Sirona who backed the company with US$3 million in April 2021 with IAN Fund.

In order to create awareness and educate women and girls about menstrual hygiene, the startup has created the “The Sirona Hygiene Foundation” to empower women and remove stigma around menstruation. By engaging in menstrual health initiatives, they are helping the underprivileged have access to clean water and menstruation awareness navigation tools so that everyone can be confident about their bodies.

On the business front: With its innovative products and funding of US$3 million raised in a Series A, Deep is looking to strengthen its foothold by expanding into the global market. The fund will be used to increase research and development activities to improve product quality. The company also has plans for next year’s round of investment.

The taboo around menstruation in India is slowly starting to lift, but there is still a lot of progress to be made. Indian startups are at the forefront of this movement and are fighting hard to break the silence and bring menstrual hygiene awareness to rural areas. It’s going to take time, but with a continued effort from both the government and the private sector, menstruators in India can receive better support and resources.

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Header image courtesy of Freepik

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