‘It shouldn’t be a taboo’: She wants women to take charge of their sexual health with home-based STI screening kits
In Asia, sex and sexual health are hardly talked about, especially not amongst women in public. And 28-year-old Xi Liu wants to change that.
The China-born entrepreneur discovered that sexual health is talked about very differently in the West when she went there to study and then work.
“I did my first Pap smear and had my first gynaecologist visit only at 24 after I went to the States, and it was considered late,” notes Xi.
In contrast, most women in Asia don’t see a gynaecologist regularly and are shy to do so, especially if they are male.
“However, doing proper check-ups if you are sexually active is important, especially for women as they are more fragile than men in terms of risks,” she shares.
Seeing this gap, Xi founded Ferne Health, which allows women and men to test for sexually transmitted infections and screen for cervical cancer in the privacy of their own homes.
The premise is simple. Go to their website, pick the relevant kit. Once it’s delivered, follow the instructions (there’s a video), wait for the kit to be picked up, and the results will be sent to you after that with a consultation scheduled if you would like. Results take two days to a week to return, depending on the type of test you choose to take.
You won’t need to physically inconvenience yourself by making an appointment at the doctor’s office and won’t be scared that you are paiseh when talking about getting tested with the doctor.
“Some people have shared with me that they have experienced doctors asking personal questions and they have felt really awkward,” Xi notes, adding that with her kits, there’s no reason to put off testing as it can be done anytime, and technically anywhere.
And though Ferne Health is female-focused, there is a STI testing kit for men. “This is a way to protect women, as by getting their partners to be tested, women are protecting themselves,” she shares.
But beyond the test kits, Xi hopes to build a community for women where it’s safe to talk about sexual health. And it’s not just for Singapore, she hopes to bring Ferne Health to the rest of the region and raise sexual health awareness amongst those who need it.