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The rising stars of pregnancy apps

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One of the fastest growth drivers in feminine health technology is apps. From period-tracking to women’s fitness, online nannies and menopause support, femtech apps are bringing their A-game. The biggest players? Pregnancy apps. With 385,000 babies born every day, pregnancy is big business. Those kinds of figures are hard to ignore and the tech industry is listening.

Engaging with pregnancy apps is becoming a routine part of the maternal experience. There are hundreds of options available, from simple growth trackers to medical advisors, social communities and the answers to any question you could ever think of.

BabyCentre is one of the most popular. It is an award-winning platform with millions of unique users and is, according to Forbes, the best pregnancy tracking app out there.

The user not only gets 3D renderings of their baby’s development in the womb but also access to a social network connected to other expectant women, along with a whole host of related information and resources.

It is available in five languages and any health information is approved by its own Medical Advisory Board and certified by the NHS England Information Standard.

Trackers like BabyCentre make up the bulk of the app market, but they are just one of the options available.

Pregnancy and motherhood can be lonely, so having a group of people to offer support often makes a big difference.

That’s the idea behind Peanut, otherwise known as the Tinder for expectant mothers, which comes in at a respectable number nine on the GoodHousekeeping list of the 18 best pregnancy apps. Peanut enables users to connect with people in the same area who are also going through similar circumstances, be that pregnancy, menopause or motherhood.

It has thousands of users across the globe and Founder and CEO Michelle Kennedy believes they must ensure no woman has to figure it out on their own.

Expectful is another big name on the circuit. The app aims to be a one-stop-shop for affordable, accessible and enjoyable maternal wellness support and boasts specialists in lactation, sleep, nutrition, mental health and fertility.

Within the app are meditations, events such as fitness classes and live Q&As, and drop-in support groups. The app is another of those featured on Good Housekeeping’s 18 best pregnancy apps.

What To Expect hits the top-rated lists for a few publications, including Women’s Health, Cosmopolitan, and Forbes. It is a very popular app that not only offers a weekly pregnancy tracker but also supports users in the first year of parenthood and beyond.

It advises on products, such as car seats and pushchairs, where it links community reviews and puts them into ‘best of’ lists. Ever wondered where the ’16 weeks, the size of a cherry’ comparison comes from? You can thank What To Expect for that.

With Glow, both the user and their partner can use the app to track the pregnancy together.

There are birth stories, bump pictures and product reviews via the community, as well as appointment reminders, and pregnancy stats.

It also links with Apple Health and My Fitness Pal for full integration.

Also highly rated and providing very similar services are the likes of Sprout, Ovia, Hello Belly and The Bump.

Ultimately, the app a user chooses comes down to personal preference, whether that be the services it provides, the interface or content type.

Why are they so popular?

Pregnancy is a complex time. It brings excitement and fear bundled together with babygrows, nurseries and week-by-week fruit comparisons – and it is a multi-million-pound industry.

And while questions may be raised over marketing to women at a uniquely vulnerable time of their lives, the fact remains that knowledge is power – and that’s what pregnancy apps are sharing.

The breadth and depth of support pregnancy apps offer blow traditional healthcare out of the water. Most are either free with ads or have a subscription fee, which is a small price to pay for access to an extensive support network on demand.

With an ever-increasing user base, apps have the potential to change maternal care and experiences of pregnancy for the better.

Given their popularity and the rising number of users, there is a very real potential for traditional healthcare to adopt or recommend apps into routine care. Bridging the gap between technology and health information would have an enormous impact on the provision of healthcare.

For some users, apps may be more accessible than traditional healthcare. For others, they may provide a community of people going through the same experience. And for others, they can offer answers to questions they may have.

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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

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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

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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

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

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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