Consider the following:

  • In a fact sheet released by the US Department of Labor, healthcare expenses for women between the ages of 19 – 44 were found to be 80 percent higher than men of similar age. Reproductive services were considered one of the main reasons for the difference.
  • In the UK, funding to deal with erectile dysfunction (ED) for men is five times greater than funding to deal with premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Yet only 19 percent of men will experience ED in their lifetime, while a whopping 90 percent of women will suffer PMS at one time or another. 
  • And speaking of PMS, 25 percent of women have reported pain intense enough to require medication, with 5 to 10 percent reporting levels severe to affect their lives on a daily basis. Yet in studies on chronic pain by Harvard Medical School, 80 percent were done on men (and male mice). 

Partially for these reasons, partially for indignation suffered at the hands of rude medical staff (“One doctor told me that the problem with my mental health was that I make more money than my husband.”), and partially due to increased roles in the high-tech industry like healthcare IT, women are looking to have a greater presence and say in their specific healthcare needs under the banner, femtech.

On the Origin of Femtech 

Danish entrepreneur Ida Tin is credited with coming up with the term. According to Tin, she coined “femtech” to help investors understand her product, Clue, a mobile fertility tracking app. Said Tin, “I thought, what if we had a term that could put them all in one category? That felt empowering. But it also felt like it would be easier for investors and media to go find these companies and to talk about them.”   

The name stuck. Femtech (female technology, digital women’s health) quickly grew to embrace a broad range of women’s health concerns and their possible technological solutions. These include:

  • Breast Feeding
  • Chronic Conditions & Hormonal Disorders
  • Fertility & Birth Control
  • General Healthcare
  • Menopause
  • Menstruation & Period Care Products
  • Pelvic Health
  • Pregnancy & Post Pregnancy
  • Sexual Wellness

Beyond Fertility

Femtech is considered a subcategory of the healthcare technology vertical, and is dominated  by fertility tech solutions like Tin’s Clue app and Glow, which is a similar app founded by Paypal co-founder Max Levchin (more on him in a minute). It’s estimated between 56 to over 62 percent of femtech products deal with fertility and pregnancy.  

That still leaves a huge number of female health concerns to be addressed with technological solutions like a medical computer with antimicrobial properties. Here is a sampling of some of those concerns, and the femtech companies addressing them:

  • BIOMLQ looks to deal with infant feeding problems by providing a milk product cultured and grown from human mammary epithelial cells. 
  • Celmatix Inc. brings expertise in Big Data and artificial intelligence to such topics as menopausal delay and ovarian cancer. 
  • Ease Healthcare is a digital platform that helps women in Singapore and the Philippines discreetly obtain information as well as treatment on such medical issues as urinary tract infection, yeast infection, HIV, etc.  
  • Niramai screens for breast cancer via thermal imaging and AI diagnosis. 

Funding in a Male-Dominated World

As mentioned earlier, the fertility and health tracker Glow was funded by Max Levchin, who also co-founded PayPal. He’s an exception, though: of the 200+ startups in the femtech market, over 90 percent are both founded and led by women. Several have been candid about the difficulties in obtaining venture capital (VC) for their products and services. Part of the reason is that 88 percent of the VC decision-makers are men, who may understand the use (and profitability) of a medical box PC more than the advantages of an electrical device offering menstrual pain relief. 

Despite such difficulties, interest continues to be high in femtech. Estimates from business consulting firm Frost & Sullivan put global market revenue from femtech to surpass $1 billion by 2024. Market intelligence firm BIS Research estimates that femtech could reach over $3 billion in revenue by 2030

On the other hand, global healthcare spending is expected to reach an estimated $10 trillion by 2022. VCs will be looking at startups which can get them big chunks of that piece of the pie which many femtech startups ﹘ and heck, most startups, period ﹘ may struggle to promise. As Isharna Walsh, founder and CEO of the intimacy app Coral, points out, “I am very conscious of the financial dynamics: Venture investors are only interested in businesses that could turn into billion-dollar companies, and that should influence the way you talk about your ambition.”

Women, for many reasons, are looking to assume greater control of their healthcare wants and needs. Many are turning to technological solutions like apps, which are collectively referred to as femtech. If you’re in the femtech space or are interested in learning more about it, contact the experts at Cybernet today.