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Menopause

Menopause has devastating effects in the workplace, research reveals

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Research conducted by Health & Her shows that one in four women consider leaving the workplace due to menopause symptoms.

Figures suggest that perimenopause and menopause is costing UK businesses 14 million working days per year, the equivalent of £1.88 billion in lost productivity each year.

Ten per cent of women decide to leave the workforce due to menopause. In the UK, 370,000 women aged between 50 and 64 have left or considered leaving their career due to the intensity of their symptoms. Another quarter had to reduce their hours or change their working pattern entirely.

Those who stay in their jobs say that the quality of work and the overall working experience are seriously affected, with 15 per cent of them saying they have called in sick due to menopausal symptoms.

Research has also suggested that due to the difficulty of the symptoms, almost a quarter of perimenopausal women surveyed admitted to making mistakes at work, while six per cent had to skip work meetings to deal with the severity of their symptoms.

Health & Her has launched a personalised employer menopause support plan that allows employers to empower their workers with specialist advice, training and discounts on supplements and solutions.

The package offers clinic access to menopause-specialist GPs, expert advice and articles, managerial and employee training, digital tools to help track and manage menopause symptoms, and GP-led webinars designed to inform and support both menopausal women and the employees who work with and manage them.

“This support plan is a positive first step in creating workplaces that better support female employees experiencing perimenopause or menopausal symptoms,” says Kate Bache, co-founder of Health & Her.

“With the Office of National Statistics suggesting that women aged 50 to 64 are the fastest growing economically active group, businesses need to adapt and create an environment that upholds and nourishes this talented, experienced and able demographic – rather than risk losing them altogether.

“What is important to remember is that each menopause is unique,” Bache adds. “Every woman is an individual, who has an individual experience of menopause. As such, helping to support women going through perimenopause and menopause, businesses must develop a culture and policy approach that both encourages menopausal women generally and helps target their specific needs and requirements.”

To find out more about the support plan, visit healthandher.com.

Features

The Irish start-up on a mission to help women navigate menopause

identifyHer’s medical device will be able to monitor menopausal symptoms and help clinicians give a better diagnostic

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Heidi Davis, co-founder of identifyHer

Disease prevention means data. Heidi Davis, co-founder of the Irish start-up identifyHer, tells FemTech World why a medical wearable device is essential in understanding menopause and predicting future disease. 

The effect of menopausal symptoms on women’s future health is rarely talked about.

In the UK and Ireland, 3.7 million women are experiencing  symptoms that negatively affect their lives during perimenopause and menopause and untreated, such symptoms can lead to chronic diseases.

“Understanding menopause is extremely important to assess the future risks of disease,” says Heidi Davis, co-founder of identifyHer. The Irish digital health company focuses on predictive health services for women going through menopause, guiding personalised management of menopausal symptoms.

“When we started, we realised that nobody knew anything about menopause and that there was no real objective data to understand this life stage,” the co-founder explains. “So, we looked at a range of symptoms that we believed we could capture with a wearable sensor that could identify those physiological changes.

“We collected data from women who were going through menopausal symptoms and we understood that they are the ones who are looking for this information, who need this information and who are desperate to understand what’s going on.”

Along with the American manufacturing company, Analog Devices, the identifyHer team is developing a medical device that uses AI-enabled technology to capture physiological signals and personalise the management of menopausal symptoms to reduce the risk of disease in the future.

“The symptoms women experience [during perimenopause and menopause] can overlap with other symptoms that happen in daily life,” Davis points out.

“For that reason, clinicians find it hard to diagnose and give treatment because they don’t have diagnostic tests that can give a clear image. So, our mission is to help them differentiate those symptoms and provide objective data.”

The identifyHer tracker, which can be used from perimenopause onwards, sits under the breast and is activated by an app. The wearer goes about their business as normal and they will get daily, weekly, and monthly reports on their menopausal symptoms and lifestyle data.

The woman will wear the sensor for three months to track her symptoms and the data collected during that time will be used to initiate or evaluate the treatment she is already on.

The device will not only save clinicians time, but it will also offer them a better diagnostic tool and help them improve and change the treatment accordingly.

“Managing those symptoms correctly can actually set women up for a better future post-menopause because the severity and the frequency of the symptoms themselves are indicators of future risk of disease,” Davis adds.

“Women who seek medical help will be offered our solution and get remote monitoring of their symptoms while clinicians can use it for diagnosis and treatment.”

The device will be regulated both for cybersecurity and data protection and it will first launch in the UK and Ireland, followed by the EU and the US. The company will be working with health insurance companies on a paying claim policy and hopes that with time, the tracker will be integrated into the national healthcare systems.

“It’s been great to be working in women’s health,” the entrepreneur tells me. “It has been challenging, but the overall experience was good.

“We are hoping to close a round of €2.2 million by the end of this year and our aim is to become the gold standard in clinics to diagnose and help women get the right treatment. So far, we’ve had some good conversations and we are moving forward.”

Before we wrap up our Zoom call, I ask Heidi what is her biggest achievement since establishing identifyHer.

“Building the team. We wouldn’t be where we are now, if it wasn’t for the people that have helped us along the journey. It took us a long time to find them, but we knew they were the right people straight away.

“I hope we can continue growing it with as good people as we have now.”

For more info, visit identifyher.ai.

 

 

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Features

Menopause- Not just a women’s problem

With serious impacts on women’s mental health, perimenopause and menopause is costing UK economy 14 million working days per year

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Kate Bache, Health & Her co-founder

As Health & Her research reveals one in ten women have suicidal thoughts during menopause, Kate Bache says menopause is a problem for both society and economy.

In the UK, 370,000 women aged between 50 and 64 have left or considered leaving their career due to the intensity of their menopause symptoms and another quarter had to reduce their hours or change their working pattern entirely.

Such figures suggest a huge need for support, says Kate Bache, co-founder of Health & Her – a platform offering expert advice and products for women experiencing perimenopause and menopause.

Her company’s research has shown that one in ten women have suicidal thoughts during perimenopause and nine in ten are struggling with their mental health while also having the highest rate of divorce.

“These are just the facts,” Bache explains. “But they don’t tell you about the impacts on perhaps women’s children or their elderly parents. With many women being the nucleus of their family and community, menopause is definitely having a big societal effect.

“It is a problem for both society and economy,” she continues. “That’s why it’s really important to make progress and start talking about it.

“It’s unfortunate that there are still people out there who don’t take menopause seriously. I don’t think women are being self-centred with regards to menopause. In fact, if anything, they’re being selfless by making sure that they are healthy and feeling good about themselves so that they can continue to do everything they do every day.”

To help employers, Health & Her has launched a personalised employer menopause support plan that allows companies to empower their workers with specialist advice and training,  along with an app that helps women track their symptoms, learn about their body and build new habits.

“A lot of the psychology around tracking your perimenopause and menopause symptoms is about taking control and understanding your own self and the app helps women do exactly that,” Bache tells me. “We knew this was a really important part of what we should do and we’ve always taken a very holistic approach. We wanted to empower women to make the right decision for them, their symptoms and their journey.”

Different lifestyle factors and daily habits can have a great impact on women’s symptoms. Studies have suggested that cognitive behavioural therapy is a non-medical approach that can be helpful for symptoms such as hot flashes, anxiety, low mood and even low libido.

The co-founder says that: “It’s not as easy as just taking a pill. Unfortunately, to improve your symptoms, you have to look at other health aspects in your life alongside that.

“So, we looked at evidence and we tried to bring that to women in the best accessible way,” she adds. “One of the reasons why many users think our app is different is because of the daily reminders and tools that help them make small changes in their life.

“Our pelvic floor exercise did very well and other sleep, meditation and breathing exercises help women enormously with all sorts of symptoms like anxiety, mental health and insomnia.”

             Between 70 and 80 per cent of the women who used the Health & Her app noticed improvement in their symptoms

Although women’s life stages have been historically neglected, Bache says that things are starting to change. “I think there is a rightly so more conversation opening up,” she points out.

“Women are now having the opportunity to be in positions of power that can really drive that forward. But menopause awareness is more needed than ever because it’s having an even bigger impact on society.”

Recent studies have shown that women are more at risk of osteoporosis and heart disease post-menopause and the way they manage their menopause symptoms has been seen as an important factor in determining their health in later life.

“Women start to understand that it is something bigger here and that there are many ways they can take care of themselves,” Kate Bache says.

“Data is critical in this entire sector, because it will create better products, better technology and will inform and help healthcare professionals and health systems to provide better care,” she continues.

“Our team are unearthing insights all the time and we will be looking to make all that information available to healthcare professionals. That’s going to take a few years, but we absolutely see ourselves as being that thought leader.

“Fundamentally, our focus is on menopause, perimenopause and post-menopause, but there are still a lot of gaps everywhere [in the sector] in terms of insights and understanding. There is so much more that can be done.”

The co-founder is excited about improving and expanding Health & Her geographically. “What’s really important to us now is to expand our services and continue to innovate as rapidly as we have been doing.”

Download the free Health & Her app on App Store and Google Play.

For more info, visit healthandher.com.

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Opinion

“There is a huge need for both support and education about women’s health”

By Afua Basoah, Head of Health Strategy for RAPP UK

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For generations, women have lived with health and care systems that are mostly designed by men, for men.

Despite representing 51 per cent of the population, women are still significantly underrepresented in clinical trials and research. This has meant that not enough is known about conditions that only affect women, or about how conditions that affect both men and women impact women in different ways.

This gender gap contributes to worse health outcomes for women, with much less known about female health conditions than those that also or only affect men.  In the UK, women have a longer life expectancy than men, with life expectancy at birth being 83.1 for women and 79.4 years for men in 2017 to 2019. However, women in the UK spend a greater proportion of their lives in ill health and disability.

In summer 2021, the UK government opened a consultation process to inform the development of a national Women’s Health Strategy. The ambition is to build a health system that better understands and is, therefore, responsive to the realities and needs of women throughout their lives.

There is a huge need for both support and education about all aspects of women’s health. Personalised, accessible and delivered in a way that evolves as their lives change.  As women’s healthcare becomes an increasing priority, the femtech industry is rising to meet the challenge. The industry has already demonstrated impressive early wins and with appropriate access to funding, greater disruption could be ahead.

Afua Basoah, Head of Health Strategy for RAPP UK

In 2019, the femtech industry generated $820.6m in global revenue and received $592m in venture capital investment. Femtech pioneers, many of whom are female-founded, have benefited from cultural shifts, sparked by events such as the #MeToo movement, a growing interest in diversity and inclusion and pandemic-related digital acceleration.

While the US accounts for the lion’s share of femtech startups, the UK comes second in a market predicted to be worth in excess of $75.1B (£60.7B) by 2025.   The industry represents a broad range of companies that are focused on developing technology aimed at improving women’s health and wellbeing that tend to fall into four categories: healthcare and diagnostics, reproductive health, pregnancy and family care and general health and wellness.

Of these, reproductive health, pregnancy and family care currently dominate the market and according to a recent McKinsey report “there are still significant white spaces” for growth.

The disruption in this space is driven by the need to create inclusive, individualised experiences that meet the unique identities, values and personal needs of women. The one size fits all approach has been sized out.

“The ability to understand the whole woman – her genetics, aspirations, experiences as well as unmet her health needs, provides an opportunity to holistically signpost the right solutions that takes her on a journey that touches every aspect of her well-being”.

Here, Idia Elsmore Dodsworth, co-founder of the AI-based reproductive health monitoring app, Tinto, has highlighted the fact that there is a real shift towards ‘well-care’ versus ‘sick-care’ in the femtech space.

Embedding AI into their own product has helped ensure granularity of data inputs that allows for “super-tailored” content that empower users to manage their health as seamlessly and effortlessly as with other aspects of their lives, and on their terms.

Below are a selection of femtech organisations to keep an eye on:

Tinto

Founders: Dr Hannah Allen and Idia Elsmore Dodsworth

Year founded: 2019

Total funding: Undisclosed seed funding

As a provider of AI-based software solutions for reproductive health monitoring, the mission of the Tinto app is to nurture women through modern motherhood, enabling mothers to understand the full picture of their wellbeing, and to build a network through meaningful connection and proactive, personalised guidance.

The company offers a mobile app that allows users to communicate with health and wellbeing providers. It provides a curated online community where members can access information and advice from like-minded women going through similar challenges.  It also provides online articles regarding baby health, women’s health and topics beyond motherhood.

Elvie

Founder: Tania Boler

Year founded: 2013

Total funding: £116m

Elvie is a London-headquartered firm that manufacturers technology hardware for women. The first product by the company was the Elvie Trainer, an app-connected Kegal trainer. Followed by the Elvie Pump a quiet, wireless electric pump.

Last September it closed £70m in its Series C funding round to continue diversifying its product range.

Vira Health

Founders: Andrea Berchowitz and Dr Rebecca Love

Year founded: 2020

Total funding: £11.2m

London-based Vira Health focuses on women’s healthcare and improving the gathering and use of female data in healthcare.

Its first product is a menopause subscription app called Stella which guides women through menopause with tailored treatments based on the users’ symptoms.

Last month Vira Health raised £9m in a funding round to add new features to its menopause app, including telehealth and prescriptions.

Clementine

Founder: Kim Palmer

Year founded: 2017

Total funding: £1m

Clementine is a mental health app for women that uses hypnotherapy to lower stress levels and build confidence. In the subscription-based app there are sleep sessions, confidence courses, anti-anxiety courses and mantras.

The app was created after founder Kim Palmer suffered with panic attacks during pregnancy. Earlier in the year, Clementine partnered with singer and songwriter Becky Hill to encourage young people on a journey to self-care.

Headquartered in London, Clementine raised $1.3m (£1m) in its seed funding round in October 2020.

Because women are not just consumers but the primary healthcare decision-makers for themselves and often for their families, better health outcomes for women can lead to better outcomes for society.

In sickness and in health, at RAPP we stand up for individuality to co-create better outcomes for all. We leverage deep understanding of the realities, values and intersectional identities creates personalised and connected brand experiences that drive healthier outcomes. We believe that predictive, preventive and inclusive health is enabled by creativity, behavioural science, data and technology.

 

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