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Creating Your Birth Control Bestie: Meet Dallas Barnes, CEO of Reya Health

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Ottawa chapter.

My Body, My Lifestyle.

It all seems so inconsequential that these two things could be at odds with each other. Both connected to the individual, one can see the necessity of cohesion between the two. This is a topic of further explanation for many women across the world when considering birth-control options. And it’s hard to find products that work well with both one’s body and lifestyle. This is a problem that Dallas Barnes opted to fix with Reya health.

Reya Health is a company founded by a birth control user for birth control users. In difficulty trying to find a suitable contraceptive, Dallas Barnes set out to change the way women approach the search saying:

“It honestly started out rather selfishly. I wanted to figure out which would be the best solution for myself. I spent months doing my own research, reading scholarly articles, looking up clinical trials, asking experts, calling researchers, etc. I wanted to know all that I could about birth control-hormonal and non-hormonal and the female body.”

It is in this process that she recognized not only her own need for a suitable contraceptive option but also how evident it was that she was not alone in this struggle and the major problems became clear. The many issues surrounding birth control for women are obviously not synonymous across the board, and certainly, one innovation cannot fix them all but Reya Health aims to make your search for the right birth control “…more personalized, less painful, and maybe even a little fun”.

After graduating from the Sauder School of Business at UBC in Vancouver, with the support of her family and friends, Dallas was ready to take the next steps in turning her idea into a reality.

When deciding to take the plunge, Dallas recalls a piece of advice given to her by another woman, who wasn’t much further into her own entrepreneurial journey. She told her:

“If you’re curious about entrepreneurship even a little bit… now is the time to try. You have nothing to lose and all you have to do is just try.”

This resonated with Dallas, as a woman herself who she says “…was young and naive enough to not know better!”. Ultimately this helped jumpstart all that Reya Heath is and will be in the future. Her process included getting the word out about the company through social media, podcasts, word of mouth, and going to events and slowly, the community has been growing over time. 

When asked at what point did you realize the impact that Reya could have on the education of many women about birth control, she answered:

“I started with just a spreadsheet that people filled out and my medical team and I would write up detailed explanations of why a certain birth control option would work well for someone. The feedback amazed me! People loved the detailed information and some said they learned more from these explanations than from any previous doctor’s appointment. At that moment, I knew the knowledge gap was so big that even if I could improve the process incrementally, it could be life-changing for people”

Life-changing indeed, as tackling a “one size fits all” approach in the healthcare system has the ability to revolutionize the way we approach reproductive and sexual health. We are all unique and in Dallas’s opinion, it’s ridiculous that birth control and healthcare at large are approached so generally. We all will not respond the same way to the same treatments and methods. Birth control is one of those things. Reya Health is making it easy, effective and empowering for people with ovaries to take control of their own health.

As a digital platform, it provides people with knowledge and agency, while equipping women and people with ovaries with personalized information and support. Reya reframes sexual health to be about the individual – not the masses, being your very own birth control bestie.

Dallas’s advice to a young woman who is hesitant to talk/learn more about birth control is to know that they’re not alone, stating that:

“This can be a tricky and frustrating process and it’s important to remember to be patient and kind to yourself along the way. Also that your experience and journey is unique and the things that make your situation different hold power. Leverage your uniqueness and you’ll find that that’s what makes the biggest difference in having a good or bad experience with birth control.”

She has learned many lessons as CEO, but for her, the most special aspect of her journey has been seeing the positive reception Reya Heath has garnered. Some things that never get old are when a stranger says “I’ve heard of Reya before!”, or when someone reaches out wanting to volunteer their time and get involved with the mission. The significant moments for her are when people show that they believe in what Reya Heath is doing, that they believe in her and want to be a part of it.  

When closing the interview, I asked Dallas to travel 4 years into the future with me and describe what Reya Health looks like now, in her eyes. She says:

“In 4 years, Reya will be the go-to platform for personalized sexual and reproductive health. Going beyond birth control, Reya will support people all along their health journey through our comprehensive platform and continuum of care”

As far as futures go, this seems like one I would love to be a part of and see grow, wouldn’t you?

Lordslove is a second-year political science student at uOttawa, who is very interested in social justice issues. She is also an avid YA novel reader, with an added interest in writing herself. When she's not reading you can find her watching movies with a bowl of popcorn and an iced cranberry lemonade. She one day plans on going to law school after her undergraduate studies. Hit her up if you'd like to work with her on your next project!