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How data collection can change fertility treatment now and in years to come

Is data collection the answer to better reproductive health research?



Cecilie Hvidberg Jakobsen, wawa fertility founder, tells FemTech World why data has the power to change fertility treatment. 

The prevalence of infertility is more common than most people would think. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), this global health issue is affecting millions of people of reproductive age worldwide. Available data suggests that between 48 million couples and 186 million individuals have infertility globally.

A report published in 2016 in the Oxford Academic journal suggested that one in eight women aged 16–74 years had experienced infertility, defined by unsuccessfully attempting pregnancy for a year or longer.

Cecilie Hvidberg Jakobsen has seen the devastating emotional and psychological consequences of infertility among her friends, after she struggled herself with pregnancy loss.

“I was so confused that no one was speaking about this subject when actually, so many people suffer from infertility and have to pause everything in their lives to put all of their energy into treatment,” she tells me.

“After a lot of research, I found out that infertility was actually the biggest chronic disease in people in the reproductive age and the biggest problem, as in many other parts of the women’s health tech sector, was the very big data gap.”

Cecilie experienced pregnancy loss herself

Along with her co-founder, Barbara Saouma, Jakobsen has launched wawa fertility, a Danish app designed as a personal assistant that offers medical and mental health support for fertility patients. “We spoke to around 250 couples, fertility clinics and pharma companies and we found out that the only right way [to close the data gap] was to empower women, because they are the only ones who have all the knowledge about the process that they’re going through,” the founder says.

“Our app is handling everything for women and couples going through fertility treatment, from diagnostics, all the way to the live birth of a child.

“We are helping them understand the treatment that they’re going through, what is happening in the diagnostic process, how to pick the right clinic, what questions to ask their doctor and how to prepare for different procedures.”

The amount of data collected helps founders like Cecilie to personalise insights and offer tailored advice. While wawa does not use personal data and complies with data regulators, the founder explains that collecting so much information will be beneficial for many generations to come. “That data can help us do better research, and come up with better fertility treatments,” she says.

“Many women experiencing infertility or pregnancy loss, like myself, don’t want anyone to suffer from this in the future. Right now, the numbers that we’re looking at are saying that more than half of people are going to need help getting pregnant in the future.

“I really want to do something about it,” Jakobsen continues. “If my kids are going to need fertility treatment, I definitely want to make sure it’s going to be an easier journey than what I experienced and I feel like a lot of the women are thinking the same.”

An integral part of that is understanding the infertility symptoms. wawa’s research found that more than 80 per cent of women going through treatment suffer from mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.

Cecilie says that: “Women have no clue what they’re going through. They have no clue if they’re taking the right medication the right way because most of the clinics are very busy and don’t have the time to give the right information to patients.”

Wawa offers medical and mental health support, such as writing therapy and daily check-ups, as well as financial advice that can help people navigate their fertility journey more easily.

“The app is research-based,” the founder points out. “So, everything is made by experts we’ve been working with from psychologists to gynaecologists and fertility experts. That was very important for us because as a woman, becoming pregnant is your number one wish, and we wanted to create an app based on real research and backed by people in this sector.”

                                                                wawa uses AI to support patients and improve treatment

Considering a significant increase in fertility apps, I ask Cecilie what makes hers different. “I think what makes wawa different is that it is data-driven and everything you put into it will give you feedback immediately. So, we are making sure that we are empowering women at a personal level and give them insights on how they can improve their treatment. We are here to handle everything, so they can try and relax in some way, because our aim is to make the very hard journey just a little bit easier.

She adds that: “We’re also focusing on things that would help reduce the time of the treatment, making sure that women are not experiencing hyperstimulation, for example, and trying to create more transparency between doctor and patient.”

Wawa’s aim is going global and with enough data, the team are hoping to reduce fertility treatment and symptoms and minimise the use of medication.

“We are also hoping to make fertility treatments more accessible,” Jakobsen says. “Right now, in Europe alone, 25 million people are suffering from infertility, but we’re only treating 10 per cent and that is because it’s too expensive and way too tough. Our big mission is to change that in the future.

“Currently women can’t even learn from their previous cycles because much of the information collected  is still on paper. This is why we want to own our own data and make sure that we use it to improve fertility treatment. More importantly, we give women the chance to forever have access to their own data and everything else they need within the app.”

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Sorina Mihaila is the Femtech World editor, covering technology, research and innovation in women's health. Sorina is also a contributor for the neuro-rehabilitation magazine NR Times.


How we can address the gender imbalance in fertility testing

Everyone has heard of the female biological clock, but not many people know that male fertility declines throughout adulthood too



Lily Elsner, co-founder and CEO of Jack Fertility

Although one in six couples globally have difficulty conceiving, infertility remains a woman’s social burden. We need to address male infertility, says Lily Elsner.

Infertility affects 186 million people worldwide and, despite everything society has led us to believe, one-third of infertility cases are caused by male reproductive issues.

Male infertility can be caused by low sperm production, abnormal sperm function or blockages that prevent the delivery of sperm. Some men may also experience fertility issues due to chronic health problems, illnesses and lifestyle choices.

How come no one talks about it? To date, fertility has been firmly cast as a “woman’s issue”, irrespective of men being half of the fertility equation.

Everyone has heard of the female biological clock, but not many people realise that male fertility declines throughout adulthood too. Research shows that men will generally see a 52 per cent decrease in fertility rate between their early 30s and their mid-to-late 30s.

“Male infertility, although often treatable, is a very taboo subject,” says Lily Elsner, co-founder and CEO of Jack Fertility.

“Because men don’t have the same relationship with their physicians as women do, they often don’t know they could do something about it.”

Culturally, it can also be hard for men to talk about having trouble conceiving as this can be seen as a lack of masculinity.

Research shows that the majority of men (73 per cent) are unlikely to talk about their infertility with others. In fact, 39 per cent are not likely to talk about their infertility at all.

Elsner, however, thinks we can change that. As the woman behind Jack Fertility’s at-home sperm test kit, she thinks talking openly about male infertility could go a long way towards addressing the gender imbalance in fertility testing. 

“The whole point of femtech is to ensure women’s health is prioritised. By opening up the conversation around reproductive health and making it easy to assess male fertility, we can take some of the pressure off of women.

“Some men may not want to talk about their infertility still, but it’s an essential component of creating an equal world for all genders. I am tired of watching women shoulder the majority of infertility’s physical and emotional burden, and seeing men and non traditional families completely neglected in the medical and societal discourse surrounding fertility.”

A test like Jack, Elsner says, could give people that empowerment of having access to their health data and provide them with the tools to be able to make the right decision for them.

“A lot of men think of fertility as static, when really the male body is constantly creating sperm. With Jack, what we are trying to say is, ‘Actually, your fertility massively depends on your current health and chronic illnesses’.

“Our aim is to make it easy and convenient for all men to get reliable results about the status of their fertility, even if they are not considering starting a family. That’s part of why we named the company Jack – it’s cheeky and relatable.”

There are many fertility test on the market, but Elsner doesn’t see that as a bad thing.

“The rise of companies providing at-home sperm testing suggests a growing interest in male reproductive health, but it also signals a shift in attitudes, with fertility being recognised as an issue that affects both men and women equally,” she says.

“There are so many amazing companies out there working on fertility tests, but I think most of them are targeted a little bit further down the funnel. For us, it’s about getting men to take that first important step of getting tested. We just want them to have a chat with Jack.”

Jack Fertility is expected to launch later this year. To find out more, visit

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Partnership to pilot ‘cutting-edge’ embryo selection tool

The partnership is hoped to streamline laboratory operations with the potential future benefit of optimising the embryo selection process



The US fertility technology company Alife Health has teamed up with a network of laboratories to pilot an AI technology for embryo image capture and cataloguing.

The company’s partnership with Ovation Fertility aims to focus on streamlining laboratory operations with the potential future benefit of optimising the embryo selection process.

The technology could enable future “AI-powered” embryo selection.

Alife’s Embryo Assist software promises to help embryologists to create digital records of every embryo, with the added benefit of using the start-up’s clinical decision support algorithm to determine the best embryo for transfer.

Paxton Maeder-York, founder and CEO of Alife, said: “We are thrilled to join forces with Ovation, a leading laboratory network in the country, to showcase the transformative impact of Alife’s technology.

“Through this partnership, we aim to demonstrate how Alife’s advanced technology, powered by AI, can not only optimise clinic workflow, but also set a new standard in the precision and consistency of embryo selection.

“We look forward to contributing to Ovation’s commitment to excellence in fertility care.”

Matthew VerMilyea, vice president of scientific advancement at Ovation, added: “At Ovation, we strive to discover and leverage the most state-of-the-art technologies available to us in order to better improve patient outcomes.

“The Alife Embryo Assist software provides our laboratories with a structured digital approach to a rather manual and cumbersome process.

“I believe that by implementing Alife’s technology, we will see an improvement in lab efficiency and performance, which ultimately will help our network provide the best possible outcomes for every individual hoping to grow their family.”

The Embryo Assist software claims to allow embryologists to capture images of each embryo and streamline the embryo reporting process by eliminating the need to manually transcribe information between systems.

Alife expects the tool to “elevate” laboratory quality-control measures by providing an activity and audit trail for every embryo, viewable in real time.

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Kitazato and IVF2.0 forge groundbreaking collaboration to revolutionise IVF with AI solutions

The collaboration aims to advance real-time sperm selection for intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and embryo ranking



Kitazato, a trailblazing Japanese corporation specialising in assisted reproduction products, and IVF2.0, a leader in AI software for assisted reproductive technology (ART), have joined forces in a strategic collaboration.

The partnership aims to advance real-time sperm selection for intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), and embryo ranking based on ploidy prediction, ushering in a new era for the IVF market.

Under this agreement, Kitazato will leverage its multi-national distribution network to introduce standardised reproducible data-driven decision-making to IVF laboratories in many regions of the world through IVF2.0’s software.

IVF2.0’s suite of AI tools, including sperm selection (SiD) and embryo selection (ERiCA), assists embryologists in making critical choices to optimize fertility outcomes.

Mr Futoshi Inoue, president and CEO of Kitazato, expresses enthusiasm, stating: “Partnering with IVF2.0 demonstrates our commitment to innovation. We embrace technologies that aim to boost success rates, standardize procedures, and democratize fertility treatment for all.”

Professor Andrew Drakeley, co-founder and board chair of IVF2.0, emphasises the significance of the collaboration.

He said: “Our bond with Kitazato, a prestigious company with world-class products, underscores the growing need for implementing AI tools in IVF clinics globally. This marks a substantial step in the right direction.”

Kitazato, Kitazato – Quality Results for Life (, renowned for delivering quality products in assisted reproduction, aligns with IVF2.0’s mission to enhance IVF outcomes through AI.

IVF2.0’s innovative software platform employs AI and computer vision technology to elevate key steps in the IVF process.

Learn more at IVF 2.0 (

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