Alice Pelton: The Lowdown Is a One-Stop Shop For Women To Choose, Access And Use The Right Contraception And Reproductive Healthcare For Them

August 24, 2022

The Lowdown is a one-stop shop for women to choose, access and use the right contraception and reproductive healthcare for them.

Powered by user-generated content, medical advice and prescriptions, we use their unique community-first approach to put women in control of their healthcare decisions.

The startup was founded in 2019 after founder Alice Pelton suffered debilitating side effects from her contraception throughout her twenties.

Frustrated by the lack of clinical data and poor quality of the advice she received, Alice bootstrapped and built The Lowdown’s contraception review platform to help women like her share and compare their experiences.

It went viral and has built an engaged community and following that has generated over 5,000 reviews on people’s lived experiences with over 85 every method and brands of contraception.

Last year The Lowdown launched the UK’s first private contraception consultation service via their team of remote expert GPs, and have since expanded the service to include sex coaching and pelvic health physios.

The team has developed a suite of digital tools that are used by thousands of women every week, including a contraception recommendation algorithm based on their review data and clinical evidence.

These tools are combined with seamless next-day delivery of the widest range of contraceptives in the UK including the contraceptive pill, patch, ring, injection and morning after pill.

Tell us about yourself?

I set up The Lowdown in 2019 with a mission to make contraception easier to choose, access and use. Before that I studied at the London School of Economics, and then worked in strategy and product management at the publisher News UK.

If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

Done is better than perfect. Getting started is the hardest part – just put something down on paper and then refine it. And ask for help.

What problem does your business solve?

We make contraception easier to access, understand and use. We are the only platform where women can share their personal experiences of contraception whilst reading others.

We’re also the only online destination where you can buy two morning after pills at once. I wanted to start a company, but I actually created a movement.

Through The Lowdown women are empowered to educate themselves and get the medical advice and seamless prescriptions they really need.

We have helped over one million women feel heard, reassured and informed – and we’re using this feedback loop to develop products and solutions that help solve women’s health problems.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

I built it because I personally struggled for years to find a method of contraceptive that didn’t negatively impact my mood.

In my search for the right method I realised I couldn’t find useful data on real women’s experiences and side effects from contraception at scale, anywhere.

This information is simply not available in the public domain. You either speak to friends, read an intimidating internet forum, or ask your doctor. All of these are small sample sizes, and you’re never sure whether one person’s experience is the norm or the exception.

Where there is information, I don’t think it’s presented in the right way or in the right format. I wanted to build something visually appealing that helps explain the detail. In general, I think women are patronised and deserve to be given a much deeper understanding of what contraception they’re using.

What is your magic sauce?

Our product and content is honest and balanced, and as a company we refuse to patronise our users – preferring to give them the honest ‘lowdown’ on symptoms, side effects and options.

There’s a lot of talk about personalisation in healthcare, but what I’ve learnt over the last five years of building The Lowdown is that feeling listened to and knowing that you’re not alone is the healthcare that many of us are looking for.

Traditional research has its limitations, and just because no one has funded or completed gold standard clinical research on a side effect or symptom, does not mean that it doesn’t exist.

Women are desperate for an honest and informed conversation about the reality of things like contraception, and The Lowdown is here to do just that.

Through collecting anecdotal data at scale, and combining this with content and tools that interpret evidence (where it does exist) we can give women clarity, confidence and most importantly, control.

We couple that with products and services that have choice and convenience at their core, to become the most trusted partner and source of information in women’s health.

What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?

The Lowdown will continue to grow our groundbreaking prescription delivery subscription service, which offers at home next day delivery of the widest range of contraceptives in the UK, including the pill, patch, ring, injection and morning after pill.

Last month we expanded this service and launched a suite of community-recommended products to help women manage their contraceptive side effects and vaginal health symptoms, including UTI’s, thrush, bacterial vaginosis, breast tenderness and vaginal dryness.

The Lowdown is often the first to hear about a new solution through its community, and can educate and inform our users about these products before competitors or healthcare professionals.

Last year The Lowdown launched the UK’s first private contraception consultation service via our team of remote expert GPs, which has received rave reviews. 100% of bookers were satisfied with the service and 88% are happier with their contraceptive choice after speaking with one of The Lowdown’s doctors.

We will continue to build this out, recently expanding the service to include sex coaching and pelvic health physio, in response to increased queries from our community around problems with sex and painful intercourse.

Alongside growing the e-commerce and telemedicine sides of our business, we have exciting plans to reimagine the physical experience of reproductive and sexual health, which we’re very excited to announce towards the end of this year.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

There is still a tendency to see contraception as a ‘niche’ thing even though it’s something over 1 billion people use worldwide. Explaining its scale, and the problems people have with it – can be a challenge (but I quite enjoy going into bat in investor pitches).

I think there’s a slight tendency to think that female founders in Femtech are doing some sort of charity work because of the socially responsible nature of some of our companies. The reality is that we’re just as ambitious and efficient as other industries, and should hold ourselves to the same standards.

How do people get involved/buy into your vision?

Come at join the thousands of people who’ve left a review and shared their experience for a method of contraceptive they’ve used – or use our unique contraception recommender algorithm to find your match

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