Shardi Nahavandi on building a hormonal health business, birth control and equitable healthcare


Shardi Nahavandi, Tuune CEO and Founder

Tell us about yourself!

I’m Shardi - I’m the CEO and Cofounder of Tuune (formerly Pexxi). I founded Tuune after I was misdiagnosed with bowel cancer. I was really struggling with my health - so badly that I couldn’t keep water down, my hair was falling out. After the misdiagnosis (and dozens of others) my doctors were telling me my symptoms must be down to my busy lifestyle. Their advice was “Relax! Why not try some yoga or meditation?”. It just didn’t fit. So, I did my own research and (two masters degrees later) found the answer - I had a hormone imbalance. Throughout the journey to reclaim my health I was struck at the inequity within current healthcare systems, including the huge gender data gaps in current research that underpins our understanding of hormones and treatment options. I founded Tuune to help close these gaps and to work toward a world where we have better, fairer, more representative healthcare systems.

I founded Tuune to help close these gaps and to work toward a world where we have better, fairer, more representative healthcare systems.

Tell us what you're building right now? (it's very cool, we're kinda obsessed).

Our first step towards creating a more equal and personalised healthcare system is contraception. There are literally millions of women and people with cycles unduly suffering from being on the wrong hormonal contraceptive for them. We are building (and very shortly launching) a platform that offers exactly those people personalised prescriptions based on their unique hormone profile, so they can experience their best health. We’re building a platform that will mould science towards our users, not the other way around.


You're going to be hosting your own community Space, what can womxn expect from it? How do you hope it benefits them?

One of the biggest challenges in this space is the debunking of myths about our hormones - and there are so many myths! Women and people with cycles can come to my community Space for inspiration, information and conversation about these myths and leave armed with accurate information about their hormones and how to leverage them to reach their full potential.


What's the biggest lesson that you've learned in the past year?

We’ve all learned a lot of lessons during the Coronavirus pandemic, but for me it’s been learning how to be more grateful for the little things. Really, really working on gratitude and being thankful for all of the positive things, even the ones that feel inconsequential that we often just take for granted.


What do you wish was different for women while navigating their healthcare options?

In current healthcare systems, there is such nuance in the way female hormones are seen - right from the way research is conducted through to the ways medical professionals prescribe drugs. Hormones need to begin being seen as a vital health indicator. As a woman, or person with a cycle, you should be going for your check-up and alongside your blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol - your hormones should be measured. The way hormones are currently handled by modern healthcare is a huge barrier to women and people with cycles receiving the best care and prescriptions for them. Part of our mission at Tuune is to challenge that and build a system where we are breaking down those barriers.


Part of our mission at Tuune is to challenge that and build a system where we are breaking down those barriers.

Craziest fact about birth control we should all know?

The craziest thing has to be the story about the Pope… On some types of birth control pill we are told to take it 21 days ‘on’, 7 days ‘off’ - and in those 7 days we have a withdrawal bleed that mimics a period. But there is actually no real scientific reason for having this bleed. It goes back to the 50s when Catholic gynecologists thought that if they could make using the pill more closely imitate a natural menstrual cycle, then the Pope would be more likely to accept it and endorse the use of hormonal birth control. Unfortunately, he didn’t, but the 7 day break stuck and millions of people using the combination pill today still use it in this way. Crazy right?


As you know – we're all about community. How has your community helped you personally?

Tuune is part of Google for start-ups, which is full of incredible entrepreneurs and mentors. This has been invaluable because it opened up a network filled with people who were experts in areas that I wasn’t — like medical regulation. This has helped Tuune to grow and learn much quicker than we would have on our own. When building something truly disruptive, you need to know how the whole system works. Google for start-ups has given us access to the right people at the right time to help us understand that system.



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