Have you heard of Zoie circles? So far, the Zoie app, since its launch this year, has helped women gain access to healthcare via their phones in the form of virtual sessions with gynaecologists, mental health practitioners, fertility specialists and contraceptive experts. But there is another feature of the app we’d love for you to tap into. And yes, it’s kinda like… a chat room.
If someone, in the year 2022, were to elevator pitch you the idea of a chat room as a revolutionary concept, you’d probably roll your eyes and say, “Not exactly a new idea, dude.” And we’d be inclined to agree. But to us at Zoie, the in-app chat room (Circles, we like to call them) is far more important than the idea in your head, of unmoderated spaces where dangerous ideas fly around.
So, what are Zoie Circles? And how is it going to help me, you might ask?
Zoie Circles are a safe space for you to check in with questions and ideas about your body – and baby – that you’d love answers to, but can’t find. Because as much as you’d love it to, Google doesn’t always give you the answer about what’s happening in your body, right now. But you know who could? Another woman, because she’s been there.
“We know that women have been doing this for centuries, whether it’s physically around a river, sharing pregnancy tips and contraceptive [tips] to breastfeeding tips,” says Thato Schermer, Zoie co-founder (her go-to Circle is Contraceptives 101). “It’s always been the special thing about how women connect, especially over these specific health seasons. We do it naturally. We’re very community-focused.”
Naturally, we’ve taken our convos digital so that you don’t need to commute to be around like-minded people. Now, people who come to the Zoie app with a specific concern can stay, mingle and learn.
We’ve also gone the extra mile and added service: each Circle is equipped with a health professional in that field to assist with technical questions, like whether or not your latest cramp is normal, or if you need to see a doctor about it. Plus, if you want a question answered by a professional in the Circle, it’s free. And other women are encouraged to add their thoughts to the pool of information.
Who can use Zoie Circles?
If you’re a person who identifies as female, the Circles are your best friend! They’re meant to cater to every season you’re in. There’s a Circle for periods (called Periods 101), one for women who are pregnant right now (called Preggies), Circles for new moms (different ones, depending on how old your newborn is), and Circles for women with PCOS, endometriosis (called PCOS/Endo/Fibroids) and women trying to conceive (called Trying to Conceive).
For Dr Nonhlanhla Sitole, Zoie’s co-founder (her go-to Circle is New Moms), connecting with other mothers was an important part of her journey in the early days of raising her children. “I found a lot of information on international chat sites,” she says. “I practically lived on Baby Center [an international chat site for mothers] when I found out I was pregnant. I definitely understand and have lived through the need for community and people that you can relate to and can help you navigate a journey that you’ve never been through before.”
What kind of questions can you ask?
Any question is welcome in the Zoie Circles. You could ask how other women are dealing with their period pains, and share what’s worked for you. You could add a masturbation tip that recently rocked your socks off, or share your latest breast milk recipe that your newborn loves. It’s all par for the course of being a woman. “I’m really excited to see women engaging and trusting each other and feeling safe and really using the community Circles as their sort of first port of call,” says Dr Nonhlanhla.
Ready to join the conversation? Download the Zoie app here.