The Air Force has made a significant investment to help military couples combat infertility.
MFB Fertility Inc. accepted a $1.3 million contract with AFWERX Thursday to provide Proov, a progesterone testing kit, to military couples attempting to conceive.
Women serving in the military are about three times as likely to experience infertility as women in the general population, according to the Service Women’s Action Network, which conducted an online survey of service women in early 2018 Some 37 percent of currently serving women reported fertility issues. That’s compared to a national average of about 12%.
“With this new contract from the U.S. Air Force, we are proud to give simple fertility care access to couples who are trying to start a family,” said Amy Beckley, the founder and chief executive officer of MFB Fertility, and the inventor of Proov, in a news release. “From our research, we saw significant issues in the lack of support and care [for] military couples trying to conceive.”
In addition to testing kits, Proov will connect airmen to fertility doctors via an app. In a statement to Military Times, a company spokeswoman said they hope telehealth visits will be able to address about 60 percent of infertility cases.
Progesterone is an important hormone that regulates menstrual cycles and prepares the body for pregnancy. Testing helps women understand whether or not they are ovulating properly.
Proov is the first, and currently the only, FDA-cleared, at-home progesterone testing kit.
Within five minutes, results offer unique information about a woman’s cycle and can notify a woman of any issues with ovulation.
The Air Force initially invested $50,000 in Proov last year.
“While being in the Air Force for many years and understanding how the healthcare system works, I have seen colleagues and friends struggle to start a family”, said Air Force Maj. Eric Straub, a Proov champion, in the company’s news release. “With the Proov technology, it is my hope to change the stigma surrounding the lack of fertility resources and provide proactive fertility diagnostics and treatment options for Airmen and their families.”
AFWERX is an Air Force innovations team that works to “create transformative opportunities and foster a culture of innovation.” The funding provided will make tests available to roughly 100-300 couples, according to the company. Most of the funding will be used for technology development.
Infertility isn’t the only reproductive health issue being considered by the military. A congressional subcommittee heard experts speak on a wide range of reproductive health services earlier this week.