With a goal to prevent all unwanted pregnancies, campus alumna Sophia Yen co-founded an organization called Pandia Health that aims to make access to birth control easier for those who need it.
Pandia Health is an organization that provides birth control to anyone with internet access and a physical mailbox. The organization says it ships birth control to any address in order to help with confidentiality and accessibility of birth control.
“The idea is no one runs out of birth control on our watch,” Yen said. “What’s unique to our organization is … we are the only women-founded and women-led organization and the only one who has a practicing reproductive health doctor in the space.”
Yen, who received her master’s degree in public health at UC Berkeley, co-founded Pandia Health with another campus alumna, Perla Ni. Both say they learned that more people would use birth control if they did not have to visit the doctor or pharmacy every month.
According to Yen, birth control can also be used to “turn off” menstruation. She added that this was important because periods are expensive, add hundreds of pounds to landfills and prevent many from going to school and work every month.
The Tang Center currently offers multiple methods of contraception and any registered UC Berkeley student can order contraceptives without a medical appointment, according to spokesperson Tami Cate. She added that most contraceptives are fully paid for those covered by the Student Health Insurance Plan, or SHIP.
Cate also said the Tang Center offers free health education appointments in order to inform students about available services.
Elaine Cheng, campus senior and representative for Pandia Health, believes that a lack of knowledge on campus is a big part of the problems surrounding reproductive health. She added that she wants to let students know how easy and accessible birth control can be.
“I decided to get involved as a Pandia Health representative on campus because I believe in the importance of empowering women,” Cheng said over email. “I wish to create a safe place for women on campus to hold discussions around sexual and reproductive health.”
According to Cheng, the UC Berkeley Tang Center predominantly benefits those with insurance, and Pandia Health could complement campus services by providing financial assistance to those without insurance and spreading awareness on the importance of birth control.
Currently, Pandia Health provides the pill, patch and ring as birth control options. Because the organization is entirely online, doctors are unable to provide shots, implants and intrauterine devices.
“Pandia is a way to disrupt the way that old pharmacies work,” Yen said. “As long as you have a uterus and you need our services, we’re happy to serve you.”