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Could femtech offer creative solutions for women seeking abortion care?



Abortion care

With one in four women accessing abortion during their lifetimes, we examine if femtech’s interest in fertility could provide options for abortion aftercare

Femtech is taking on the fertility market by providing options for women who have been disappointed by the care already on offer. One of the ways in which it excels in considering all areas of fertility however controversial or difficult. This includes discussions on discharge health, miscarriages, depression and the difficult subject of abortion care.

The demand for abortion care is rising thanks to the pandemic and also, new laws such as the Texas restrictions passed last year.  A study by researchers at the University of Texas found that requests by people in the state to an international humanitarian organisation, Aid Access rose by almost 1,200 per cent the same week that Senate Bill 8 went into effect.

When it comes to offering care options, femtech is perfectly positioned to offer help to women considering their options. It can offer communication with healthcare professionals via telemedicine links and platforms with detailed care or education options. It may also offer ordering options for pills, therapies or pain medication through virtual reality stores or clinics. All of which allows women to make their own decisions, at home, with loved ones and feel supported.

So what are the ways in which femtech companies are approaching abortion care?

Women First Digital on Whatsapp

Women First Digital (WFD) is not just a predominately female-run platform for safe abortion information but also offers contraceptive, sexual and reproductive health advice. The platform recently released a WhatsApp bot extension for Ally, which was the world’s first-ever abortion virtual assistant. It connects women across the globe to accurate information on abortion care or services.

The biggest benefit of using WhatsApp chatbots in healthcare is the immediate reach. It can be used by consultants for everything from reminding patients to take their medication on time to providing health data. It also reaches patients in their own environment to empower them to take control of their own healthcare. It allows women to make informed decisions with information on demand, as needed and furthers communication with experts in the field on offer through the app.

Abortion care

WhatsApp also provides complete protection to the data and identity of all parties through two-factor authentication, end-to-end encryption, and business verification.

Tisha Gopalakrishnan, Executive Director of WFD said:  “Women First Digital inhabits the intersection between technology and reproductive healthcare with eHealth platforms intended to minimise barriers, improve reach, and strengthen women’s decision-making power. That’s why we’re excited to announce the expansion of our HowToUse chatbot Ally to WhatsApp, a tool that will help more women access the information they need to create opportunities for better lives.

On WhatsApp, the Ally bot has the potential to reach women on a device and application they frequently use and give them quick, tailored, and easy-to-understand information with safety and discretion.”

The chatbot, Ally, has had over 35,000 conversations with roughly 30,000 unique users from around the world through both the home site and Facebook messenger since March 2020.

“In the past five years, WFD platforms have had more than 13 million site visits with users from over 180 countries helping to reduce the rate of unsafe abortions and broaden contraceptive awareness. Ultimately, we work every day towards a world in which all women have access to sexual and reproductive health services that are safe, reliable and individually tailored,” concludes Gopalakrishnan.

Hey Jane virtual Clinic

Hey Jane offers ‘modern abortion care, without the clinic’ according to their website which looks similar to wellness sites. They are currently only operating in certain parts of the US such as New York or Illinois with their pills by post platform. Women who are pregnant up to ten weeks can log in, chat with a licensed provider through text or video depending on a person’s preferences and request an unmarked box of pills delivered at home.

The care does not stop with just the pills but creates a community where women can chat. Often abortion is not discussed due to stigma or religious beliefs or pressure, so the community can be crucial to women going through it alone.

The platform was created by the co-founders, Gaby Izarra and chief executive officer, Kiki Freedman. The company raised $2.2m in a funding round and saw its customer growth increase by 300 per cent between Q1 and Q2 of 2020. The founders believe that currently, abortion care is too difficult to access in terms of logistics, financial constraints, and from a stigma and emotional perspective.

Abortion pills by post

Covid changed a lot about the way that we approach healthcare including telemedicine and appointments over the phone. One way in which it changes the abortion care industry in the UK is that it made pills available for the first time by post by the NHS. Abortion law was amended in 2020 to allow women the right to take the pills at home during the lockdown.

However, Maggie Throup, the public health minister, confirmed on Thursday that women seeking to terminate a pregnancy by taking the two pills involved at home would lose that right at the end of August. However, Wales has announced it will make the move permanent citing the reduction in numbers accessing NHS care. Doctors, midwives, pro-choice groups and abortion providers in the UK have voiced opposition to this move requesting that the pills by post scheme be kept.

If this is introduced in August, tech may have even more of a part to play in helping women to access their options.

Read more: Why are femtech companies embracing the wellness industry? 


Canadian insurer launches partnership to support women’s health

Members of the Canadian insurer Medavie Blue Cross will have access to a dedicated women’s health platform



Angela Johnson, co-founder and CEO of sanoLiving

The Canadian insurer Medavie Blue Cross (MBC) has partnered with the virtual health platform sanoLiving to support women on their menopause journey.

Currently, more than 10 million Canadian women are navigating menopause, often with little support and misinformation about treatments.

With sanoMidLife, sanoLiving’s online menopause platform, Medavie Blue Cross members will have access to a national women’s health platform tailored to provide care and services for women going through the menopause.

The service includes personalised assessments, access to clinicians, treatments, educational content, peer support and AI assistance.

“Many women lack support for their menopause transition due to the misunderstandings of what is ‘normal’ and misinformation about treatments,” said Angela Johnson, co-founder and CEO of sanoLiving.

“Women are seeking solutions that allow them to thrive during midlife. We are thrilled about our alliance with Medavie Blue Cross, and our shared commitment to providing access to care that empowers women.”

Anita Swamy, senior vice president operations at Medavie Blue Cross, added: “We’ve heard first-hand from our members about the need for more menopause-related services.

“Our partnership with sanoLiving creates an innovative way to increase access to care for our members as we continue to focus on the support women need to navigate their benefits and provide forward-thinking options to support their health.”

Studies report one in 10 women exit the workforce due to unmanaged symptoms. Early onset of menopause and symptoms before age 45 can elevate the risk of health issues like heart disease, diabetes, dementia and osteoporosis.

With this new service, Medavie Blue Cross and sanoLiving are aiming to open up the conversation around menopause, reduce stigma and work towards giving women the access to the care they need.

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US start-up raises US$2.32m to address pelvic health concerns

The Flyte intravaginal device aims to treat stress urinary incontinence and strengthen pelvic floor muscles



The US women’s health start-up Pelvital has raised US$2.32m in funding to address “unanswered” pelvic health issues.

Minnesota-based Pelvital aims to restore pelvic health with its first product Flyte, an FDA-cleared intravaginal treatment for stress urinary incontinence (SUI) and weakened pelvic floor muscles.

The device, originally developed by physicians from the Arctic University of Norway, uses mechanotherapy, a treatment modality that when paired with an active pelvic floor contraction stimulates tissue regeneration and the creation of neuromuscular memory.

The company will use the funding to speed up the commercialisation of Flyte and raise awareness of pelvic health issues.

“Completing this round is an important step in continuing Pelvital’s unwavering dedication to provide women with innovative solutions for pelvic health, including the treatment of SUI,” said Lydia Zeller, president and CEO of Pelvital.

“This funding will play a crucial role in accelerating our commercialisation of Flyte with a strong emphasis on expanding payor coverage and enhancing clinical education and clinician awareness.”

With this final close, Zeller said, Pelvital would welcome new investors including Pier 70 Ventures, Life Science Angels, Tech Coast Angels Orange County, and Blue Pacific Fund.

Preetha Ram, managing partner at Pier 70 Ventures, would join the Pelvital board of directors.

“Joining Pelvital’s board alongside this investment round is truly an honour,” Ram shared.

“Pier 70 and I are thrilled to be part of this transformational opportunity, as Pelvital’s mission aligns beautifully with our dedication to support disruptive technologies that shake up the status quo in healthcare.

“Pelvital’s pioneering work is shaping a future where women’s health receives the attention and innovation it deserves with novel medical devices like Flyte.”

Oscar Moralez, founder and managing partner of Boomerang Ventures who led the investment round, said: “We are thrilled for the successful completion of this round as we aim to tackle the most pressing healthcare challenges.

“Our participation aims to address the chronic underfunding in women’s healthcare. Investing in Flyte, a truly groundbreaking treatment, addresses underserved pelvic health issues like SUI and contributes to raising vital awareness.”

Two published clinical trials have validated Flyte’s safety, efficacy and durability of treatment effect for women with SUI.

Most recently Pelvital published a paper in Therapeutic Advances in Urology, showing that 71 per cent of study participants achieved dry or near dry conditions as evidenced by a reduction in 24-hour pad weight after using Flyte for between two and 12 weeks.

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Cleveland Clinic launches new women’s health and research center

The programme aims to address women’s unique health needs during midlife and beyond



From left: Cleveland Clinic CEO and president Dr Tom Mihaljevic, Maria Shriver and Dr Beri Ridgeway / Source:

Cleveland Clinic has launched its new Women’s Comprehensive Health and Research Center, an initiative dedicated to helping women during midlife.

The center, which will focus on access, connectivity, education and research and innovation, aims to empower women to navigate their health journey with confidence and clarity.

Maria Shriver, founder of The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement Prevention and Research Center at Cleveland Clinic, will serve as chief visionary and strategic advisor.

“I’ve always believed our nation needed a first-class comprehensive women’s health center, and now we have one,” said Shriver.

“Over the past several years, I’ve been honoured to work alongside so many talented and passionate doctors at Cleveland Clinic to bring this vision to life. This is a place for women at every stage of life where they will feel seen, will get the research they need, and the care they deserve, from their brains to their bones.

“I am thrilled that today the WAM Prevention and Research Center expands, as it deserves to.”

Dr Tom Mihaljevic, Cleveland Clinic CEO and president, said: “Maria’s unwavering commitment to raising awareness and driving meaningful change aligns perfectly with the mission of our new center.

“Her passion for advancing the quality of care for women is remarkable and will help us transform how we deliver care for women today and into the future.”

The population of women in midlife and in need of healthcare continues to grow. According to US Census Bureau 2020 data, more than 63 million women in the US are 50 years of age or older, and approximately 6,000 women enter menopause each day.

In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 80 per cent of women aged 55 and older have at least one chronic condition, such as arthritis, asthma, cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes, which strengthens the need for more comprehensive medical care for women in this stage of life.

The new Women’s Comprehensive Health and Research Center will bring together specialty care in various areas, including behavioural health, breast health, cardiovascular care, center for infant and maternal health, endocrinology, menopause, osteoporosis and metabolic bone density, wellness and disease prevention.

Through initiatives focused on streamlining appointment processes, enhancing outreach programmes and prioritising health equity, the center will seek to ensure that all women can readily access the care they need.

“Midlife is an important milestone and a time to empower women to address health issues and focus on future health,” said Dr Beri Ridgeway, chief of staff at Cleveland Clinic.

“Taking a holistic approach, including menopausal and hormonal health, reproductive health, mental health, chronic conditions and preventive care, is critical to optimise health outcomes.

“Our priority is to help women in this stage of life make educated decisions about their health and have access to the services they need to thrive, while also feeling seen, heard and supported.”

The center, Ridgeway said, will offer support groups and resources to help address health disparities, reach diverse communities and bridge gaps in health literacy.

The institution’s ultimate mission, she explained, is to advance research and innovation specific to women during midlife.

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