Moonai is an app for period pain relief, that uses personalized sounds. In addition to the sound relief, it also helps users track their pain over time, learn what causes its intensity, and plan ahead so they can prevent it from getting worse. In this interview, Helena Rodemann, co-founder of Moonai, tells us more about the innovative startup. She shares what exactly the app for period pain relief is all about.
How did you get the idea for Moonai? What inspired you?
We’ve been struggling with period pain for years, decades even. We know what it’s like to have pain that interferes with our quality of life. We know what it’s like to not know what causes our pain, to go to the doctor and not be taken seriously. But we also know there is room for something better. And this understanding is one of our constant sources of inspiration.
We essentially came up with the idea of using sound for period pain by merging our backgrounds in femtech and music tech. And this has guided us to actively seek innovative ways to tackle the issue of period pain.
One of those ways is through sound. There is quite a lot of scientific evidence that shows how sound impacts our brain’s pain perception. We’re fascinated by the healing power of sounds and we came together to figure out how to translate that power into a tool for menstrual health.
What is your vision for Moonai?
We want to help people who menstruate feel better and live pain free. Yes, it’s that straightforward! To achieve that mission, we also want to use sound as a catalyzer that invites everyone to truly value and recognize the significance of menstrual pain. By shaping a narrative that makes this kind of pain a priority, our future also includes tackling other kinds of under-addressed pain specific to those who are female-bodied.
What has your journey been like from the idea to your app for period pain relief?
It’s been pretty wild! Since we started back in October 2020, we’ve been moving quickly. Every day feels like a new day. Every day we learn something totally mind blowing. The journey has involved talking to a lot of womxn, over a hundred at this point. We are conscious about listening and understanding what painful menstrual experiences are like for different people. So a big chunk of the journey has been just that: listening, asking questions, and synthesizing those findings.
We’ve also been meeting and partnering with menstrual health, neuroscience and psychoacoustics experts to really and truly understand how to best help people with period pain through sound. We’re not just thinking about what problem to solve, we’re also thinking carefully about how to solve that problem in a way that isn’t one size-fits all.
What are the reactions when you talk about period pain and Moonai?
Generally speaking, people are really curious and excited to try it. We hear people saying, “Wow! this is so innovative” and “Yeah, I mean, using music to heal pain makes sense.” When we talk with neuroscientists and sound scientists, they are always on board, since they understand the science and know it to be true.
But we also hear a certain level of skepticism, especially from potential users new to the idea of sound as a pain reduction tool. We’ve had people tell us, “OK, this sounds good, but does it work?” or, “this is too new for me, it’s kind of out there.” We take these questions seriously. And we know that it’s important that we understand and communicate all the science that backs up our idea. Within our app, we only choose sounds that follow scientific parameters. We walk users through the research as to how that particular sound impacts pain.
What has been your favorite moment from turning your idea into a reality?
Honestly, there are a lot of favorite moments. At the top of the list is when we share that we’re building a new, safe, and drug-free option for menstrual pain, the way people react has been really encouraging. They are tremendously grateful that someone’s taking the time and effort to help them understand, manage and deal with their pain, and sitting down and talking with them, hearing what they need and learning how we can help them are definitely some of our favorite moments.
What has been the most challenging part on your startup journey so far?
One of the most frustrating parts has been having to explain to certain people that period pain is real and that it matters. (Sigh…)
In a mostly male-dominated startup world, I don’t know how many times we’ve been asked, “why are you limiting yourself to just period pain?” as if this was some kind of niche or really obscure market segment. As if this didn’t affect millions of people worldwide. This part has been pretty exhausting.
What is your personal hope for your work at Moonai?
My personal hope is that we honor the legacy we’ve inherited from millions of women and menstrual activists before us. Another big win for us will be feeling like we have contributed to the conversation that transforms how we think of and treat menstrual pain, while also showcasing the power of sound and body literacy.
Why should more people use your app for period pain relief?
We’ve talked to so many people who’ve told us that when they seek help from health care providers, they’re told to take painkillers or birth control. That’s it. The current options for period pain aren’t enough. We also know most don’t want to take either of those options, so they end up recurring to self-care strategies like lying down, heat, or massages. These strategies are great and effective for a lot of people.
But they have a downside: a lot of those self-care strategies don’t adapt to the workplace, to public transportation, to walking on the street. Sometimes when we’re in pain, we don’t have a choice: we have to go to work, we have to go to that meeting, we have to go to that appointment. So what can we recur to?
For those who are looking for period pain relief that is effective, drug-free, and also on-the go, Moonai is there for them. It’s accessible, affordable, and unique to each person’s pain level. This means that with Moonai, they can find relief, understand what causes it, and learn how to prevent it. Anywhere they go.
For those who’d like to learn more about Moonai, please feel free to join our pre-launch waiting list on our website , and follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn to stay tuned into all our latest updates.
Photo Credits Coverbild: Sergiy Tryapitsyn