#1 At-Home hormone Tests
For far too long women’s cyclical hormonal variations were branded a liability or used as a justification for excluding women from clinical trials. Variations in fluctuating female hormones were claimed to “complicate” the results of clinical trials. A justification that makes little sense when examined. Whether or not female hormonal fluctuations render carrying out clinical trials more difficult, the reality is that women experience cyclical hormonal fluctuations – so understanding the interaction of hormonal fluctuations with different pathological mechanisms or drugs being brought to market is crucial to the advancement of medicine.
As with most areas of FemTech however, women themselves seem to be the first to understand the value of being able to examine hormonal variations – which explains the increasing number of FemTech startups offering Direct To Consumer Hormone Testing: an interesting trend to keep an eye on.
Some startups in the space include:
Hertility: which tests for a variety of factors – whether you have a hormonal imbalance (which could be at the root of hormonal acne, ovulation pain, and irregular periods), your AMH levels which provide a good indication of ovarian reserve and fertility, as well as examining whether you have any underlying reproductive health conditions like PCOS, fibroids or primary ovarian insufficiency (POI). (Dr. Helen O’Neill, Hertility’s CEO + Founder, will be speaking at our 2022 FemTechnology Summit — you can sign up here)
Eli Health, using a small at-home device to monitor hormones in saliva, enabling women to take control of their health across their lives, by providing them with powerful information on their daily hormone profile. (Eli Health’s Founder, Marina Pavlovic Rivas, spoke at our 2021 FemTechnology Summit — you can take a look here)
Hormona, wants to give women insights into any hormonal imbalances they might have and daily recommendations on how the might go about optimizing nutrition, sleep, lifestyle etc.
#2 The Lifecycle approach:
Navigating and utilizing FemTech solutions is currently fragmented and disjointed. Solutions are scattered not just in terms of the issues they treat but the age ranges they cover. Yet an increasing number of startups have staked their claim to the female lifecycle, positioning themselves as wanting to care for women from puberty to menopause.
The value proposition is clear: from the user’s point of view providing a cohesive care experience for women certainly makes sense – however it remains to be seen how startups will actually execute on the premise as the needs of women at each of the lifecycle stages (puberty, sexually active, fertility, pregnancy, post partum, perimenopausal, menopausal) are radically different. But we can’t wait to see the approaches they come up with!
#3 Navigating Fertility: Fertility is one of the most invested in areas of FemTech – so it’s also the FemTech category with the largest number of startups. Fertility / Infertility are vast terms. Difficulties conceiving impact 1 in 7 – so it goes without saying that no two couples experience the same journey. It’s why it seems particularly apt that the latest trends in fertility have been around improving the path to parenthood (making the fertility journey smoother).
Startups range from Carrot fertility – the leading global fertility healthcare and family-forming benefits provider for employers and health plans.
To Co fertility a site that aims to un-complicate the fertility journey by providing educational content, resources, and tools that answer frequently asked questions
To Parla – creating digital verticals for women navigating the fertility experience by offering group programmes led by experts in psychology, fertility and wellness. (Lina Chan, CEO + Founder will be speaking at our 2022 FemTech Summit — you can sign up here)
#4 The expansion of FemTech and incorporation of FemTech insights into other verticals of health.
For a long time, people viewed FemTech as focusing exclusively on women’s reproductive health – but as the definition of FemTech has been widely considered to have expanded, the importance of providing solutions catering to the way women’s diseases manifest differently in women has been recognized, it will be interesting to see how solutions catering to women’s ‘general’ health and women’s reproductive health intersect and intertwine and the insights either end can provide to the other. Women’s reproductive health has long been silo-ed. Treated as ‘other’. Yet, there have been calls to include the menstrual cycle as the sixth vital sign. Women’s reproductive health is integral to their general health – both (logically) impact the other and can give crucial insights and serve as warning signs for underlying conditions.
#5 Menopause tech: 73% of women don’t treat their menopause symptoms – in part because many women don’t realize that their symptoms are a manifestation of the (peri)menopausal transition they are undergoing, and in part because the solutions to alleviate those symptoms didn’t exist. But an increasing number of startups and VCs have begun to recognize Menopause for the incredible economic opportunity it represents.
Solutions range from
Embr Wave – a bracelet that quickly cools or warms to regulate body temperature for thermal relief from menopause hot flashes
to Elektra – an evidence-based care, education and a community for women going through the various stages of menopause
to Vira – whose core product Stella – an app that supports women through menopause – combines evidence-based treatments, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, pelvic floor exercises, and diet and lifestyle changes into a tailored treatment plan.
to Bia care, connecting women with UK’s menopause specialists, through technology.
#6 The Personalization of contraception / providing contraceptive alternatives:
20-30 per cent of women report being dissatisfied with their contraception, and concerns about side effects are the number one reason why women stop using the pill. The contraceptive experience has largely not been innovated upon since the sexual revolution. But with FemTech and the increasing clamoring for non-hormonal alternatives – this is beginning to change, with startups like:
The lowdown – The world’s first contraception review platform, allowing users to search and filter through thousands of real-life reviews of other lived experiences with the form of contraception.
Dama Health – using pharmacogenetic research to offer women and clinicians personalised contraception recommendations using a genetic test and an automated matching system. They want to take into account medical preferences, medical history and specific requirements to match them up against suitable hormonal contraceptive medication types
Phexxi – a first-in-class vaginal pH modulator (VPM) —a bioadhesive gel that maintains the acidic pH of the vagina to prevent pregnancy (hormone-free).
And of course you can sign up for the 2022 FemTechnology Summit here to find out about up and coming innovative FemTech Startups tackling the gender health gap, the future of care, fertility and much more!