Giving birth to a child is perhaps one of the most anticipated, happiest and most celebrated moments of a woman’s life. Unfortunately, it is also one of the toughest physical stressors on a woman’s body. Surprisingly, it has not received a lot of attention – until now.
Studies have shown that more than 80 percent of women who have a vaginal delivery suffer from some degree of tearing, and about 50 percent suffer permanent pelvic muscle damage that leads to serious health issues later in life, including incontinence and prolapse, a condition in which pelvic muscles can no longer adequately support organs in the pelvic area.
Pelvic floor disorders among women are very common. Approximately 11 percent of all women in the United States will undergo surgery to treat a pelvic floor disorder, and more than one third of all women currently suffer from symptoms.
Mark Juravic, a Stanford Biodesign graduate with an engineering background, noticed that nobody was focusing on this problem, which affects billions of women worldwide and committed to developing a solution.
Mark launched Materna in 2010 to reduce the incidence of childbirth-related injuries by developing a device that prepares the pelvic soft tissues for delivery. This not only prevents tears and pelvic muscle damage, but also reduces the time of delivery, reduces the need for instrument deliveries and improves maternal postpartum quality of life.
The startup is undergoing clinical studies at El Camino Hospital and at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. Early results have been incredibly encouraging: 26 women have used the device thus far, and the first 12 patients have returned for their follow-up appointment three months post vaginal delivery. Out of these patients, NONE suffered pelvic muscle injury. Without the Materna device, approximately 35 to 50 percent of these women would have sustained long-term damage.
Materna plans to finish enrolling patients by the end of the year and start discussions with the FDA in early 2016. In the meantime, they continue to perfect their device, for ease of use and comfort.