- Modern Fertility, a direct-to-consumer hormone, pregnancy, and ovulation test company will now sell its pregnancy and ovulation tests at 1,600 walmarts across the US and on Walmart.com.
- Modern Fertility founder Afton Vechery said that partnering with Walmart will enable the startup to move forward its mission of true accessibility for all women.
- Modern Fertility aims to enable women to learn about their fertility as a part of their overall health and wellness, not just as a part of trying to conceive.
- The startup was attracted to Walmart’s commitment to healthcare. In the last year, Walmart has opened healthcare clinics called Walmart Health and announced it would offer its own health insurance.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Take a walk down the “family planning” aisle at your local pharmacy and you’ll see a lot of products that either prevent pregnancy (condoms, Plan B), or tell a woman if she’s pregnant (pregnancy tests). But what about women wondering if they can get pregnant, or when during their cycle they should try to conceive?
Traditionally, those types of inquiries require a trip to a physician’s office, and can come with hefty out-of-pocket charges. But direct-to-consumer startup Modern Fertility aims to make the process of learning about ovulation as easy as it is to pick up your weekly toiletries, and as affordable, too. Today, Modern Fertility announced that its at-home pregnancy test and ovulation test are now available at nearly 1,600 Walmart locations across the US.
“Walmart has an unparalleled commitment to accessibility and so do we,” co-founder of Modern Fertility, Afton Vechery, told Business Insider of the company’s decision to partner with the major retailer. “We want to meet women where we are.”
Modern Fertility launched in 2018 with a $159 at-home hormone test. The test is designed to bring affordable fertility information to women without being prescribed a test through a physician. It can be self-administered through a finger prick and mailed back to the company, or through a Quest Diagnostics. The belief behind the company is that women should have the option to be proactive about their fertility, not reactive — meaning, learning about one’s fertility shouldn’t be a result of failing to conceive, it should be a part of mainstream wellness.
Vechery came up with the concept for Modern Fertility after her own experience paying $1,500 out of pocket to learn about her fertility.
When Vechery realized she was going to wait until later in life to start a family, she wanted to learn more about her fertility and what would be possible for her. But her OB-GYN told her “no, you’re not actively trying and failing to conceive, I’m not going to prescribe them for you.” Vechery still wanted the tests, so she opted to pay out of pocket, and had to go to an infertility clinic to get them done. $1,500 later she was happy to have learned more about her body, but frustrated by the price tag and the process. She told others about her experience and realized she wasn’t alone.
“Women wanted more information about their bodies, and to use that to make decisions that were right for them,” she said.
Modern Fertility expanded its product lineup in July, with the ovulation and pregnancy tests that are available in Walmart, as well as launching a free app that enables period and ovulation tracking. The ovulation tracking app is designed to work with the ovulation tests — women can take a photo of the results of their ovulation test, and the app deciphers the results and predicts a customer’s 2 most fertile days. Both products are up to 50% cheaper than leading pregnancy and ovulation test brands.
Vechery said the company also found Walmart an attractive retail partner because of “the amount of resources they were dedicating to healthcare.”
In recent years, Walmart has been working hard to become a healthcare company. In 2019, Walmart opened its first Walmart Health, a stand-alone healthcare clinic that offers low-cost health services, regardless of insurance, including “primary and urgent care, labs, x-ray and diagnostics, counseling, dental, optical and hearing services.”
There are now six Walmart Health facilities open, five of which are in Georgia, and Walmart announced on September 17 that the company would be opening nine more facilities before the end of 2020, and is exploring new markets. Walmart is also launching a health insurance arm.
Both Walmart and Modern Fertility are retail companies that aim to simplify and supplement the US healthcare system for customers. Kirsten Green, the founder of venture capital firm Forerunner Ventures, thusfar the biggest investor in Modern Fertility at $15 million, thinks startups will continue to step in and fill the healthcare system’s gaps.
“In an age where consumers increasingly demand: value, convenience, transparency, the healthcare category broadly speaking falls short,” Green, who also has a seat on Modern Fertility’s board, told Business Insider. “By and large business follows the consumer, meeting opportunities where demand exists. In this vein, the healthcare system is ripe for invention and intervention.”
Because Walmart stores are prevalent in more rural areas, Modern Fertility can now reach customers who might not have nearby access to a doctor’s office or hospital, and who might not have discovered the company’s products otherwise. Modern Fertility’s products will also be available on Walmart.com, and Vechery noted that Walmart’s dedication to offering next-day shipping made her feel the retailer would be a good partner, because of the time-sensitivity associated with pregnancy and ovulation testing.
Modern Fertility has successfully shifted the conversations and products surrounding fertility “upstream,” so that talking about fertility isn’t just for women who might be infertile or have a difficult time conceiving: About 75% of Modern Fertility hormone test customers are not actually trying to conceive, according to Vechery. She also noted that the tests are meant to be a conversation starter between a woman and her physician, not a replacement for a doctor.
Green said that the two are complementary and that Modern Fertility “helps create more informed, savvy patients who have more productive conversations with their OB-GYNs, which enables better care within the doctor’s office.”
Perhaps in the future, women will be able to get their Modern Fertility tests and discuss the results with their doctor — all at the same Walmart.