How Anca Griffiths' Company Is Giving Women A Space To Learn About Sex-Specific Health Subjects
When Anca Griffiths was expecting her first child about five years ago, her husband was travelling frequently, so at a friend’s recommendation, they hired a local nurse for a month.
“I didn’t know about Hong Kong’s confinement rituals and didn’t think I’d need to be taken care of. I just figured if she has experience with babies, it’s reassuring,” recalls Griffiths. After delivery, she was blindsided by her own physical and mental needs. “But I finished that month feeling really resilient, and I saw my experience diverged from that of friends in Europe and Canada.”
Intrigued, she dug deeper into Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and connected with practitioner Gigi Ngan, with whom she co-founded OM, a women’s health platform. While the original plan was to write a book on postpartum healing, Griffiths’s scope expanded as one women’s health expert referred her to another.
“Experts kept telling me, we’d love to educate on why changes are happening so that women can support their bodies. It’s not only postpartum: it’s the same with menopause, women go through it, they suffer and they don’t understand what’s happening,” says Griffiths.
After a few years of research and developing a global network, Covid-19 hit, accelerating the telehealth trend. Griffiths took OM online to offer women everywhere classes and private sessions led by medical experts on sensitive physical and mental health subjects. And she began pitching OM to private medical insurers and employers in Hong Kong and beyond.
“I would meet with inclusivity teams and with men, and they’d find our work super interesting,” says Griffiths. “One male CEO told me, ‘I want to understand menopause better because I have a lot of women in my company in that age group.’” What surprised her was the unenthusiastic reaction from women: “I’d see them shutting down.”
The male body has been studied as the ideal for the past hundred years and, because of that, everything we apply to our body is really made for men
Thinking back to her corporate days in consumer insights, it occurred to Griffith that many associations with women’s health suggest instability or weakness. “As a woman, you want to prove that you’re the one who doesn’t need help: I’m not PMSing, I don’t have baby brain, I’m not going through menopause, don’t rule me out,” she says.
This attitude highlights the need for better awareness of and education on female realities, including the positive, such as the growth of certain brain areas postpartum and phases of enhanced creativity or coordination during the menstrual cycle.
“The male body has been studied as the ideal for the past hundred years and, because of that, everything we apply to our body is really made for men,” says Griffiths, who has partnered with Dr Alyson McGregor, a leading US-based researcher in gender health bias. “When it doesn’t fit, either we’re told that it’s in our head or we say to ourselves, ‘Well, I didn’t do it right.’”
See also: Luüna Naturals Founder Olivia Cotes-James Wants You To Reframe The Relationship You Have With Menstruation. Here's How
Griffiths is part of a sea change in interest and openness around women’s health taboos. She cites celebrities and everyday women alike sharing struggles with miscarriages, breastfeeding or pelvic floor issues in social media posts along the lines of: “Now I pee in my pants when I laugh #momproblems.”
While she commends the sharing, Griffiths says it doesn’t go far enough because these aren’t insurmountable problems and shouldn’t be glorified as such. They have solutions that women can understand and begin to leverage, which is where platforms like OM come in.
See more honourees from the Wellness category of the Gen.T List 2021.