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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Drug that targets hot flushes approved in UK and EU
Fezolinetant could potentially benefit hundreds of thousands of women approaching menopause
A new drug that prevents hot flushes during menopause has been approved for use in the UK and the EU.
Veoza, also known as fezolinetant, has been given the go-ahead by the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the European Commission after it was approved for use by the US Food and Drug Administration earlier this year.
Hot flushes, also known as vasomotor symptoms, are a common symptom of menopause that often feels like a sudden flare of heat, paired with sweating and flushed skin. Worldwide, more than half of women between 40 to 64 years experience them, with rates in Europe ranging from 56 per cent to 97 per cent.
Before menopause, there is a balance between oestrogens and a protein made by the brain, known as neurokinin B (NKB), that regulates the brain’s temperature control centre. As the body goes through menopause, oestrogen levels decline and this balance is disrupted, which can lead to hot flushes.
Veoza, developed by the Japanese drug maker Astellas Pharma, reduces the number and intensity of hot flushes and night sweats by blocking neurokinin-3.
“Hot flushes and night sweats caused by menopause are common and can have a significant impact on a woman’s daily life,” explained Julian Beach, the interim executive director of healthcare quality and access at the MHRA.
“We are therefore pleased to have authorised Veoza (fezolinetant) for hot flushes and night sweats caused by menopause via our reliance procedure.
“No medicine would be approved unless it met our expected standards of safety, quality and effectiveness and we continue to keep the safety of all medicines under close review.”
Professor Rossella Nappi, associate professor of obstetrics and gynaecology and director of the gynaecological endocrinology and menopause unit IRCCS San Matteo Foundation, University of Pavia, said: “I’ve been awaiting the marketing authorisation of fezolinetant.
“I’m happy to see this advancement in women’s health and that my patients will soon have this new non-hormonal treatment option available to better control their moderate to severe vasomotor symptoms.”
The coolest brand in hot flash relief: behind Femography’s menopause clothing revolution
In an era when menopause was seldom addressed, Femography courageously launched Become
In the realm of women’s health, an exciting revolution is underway, and at its forefront is Femography, a trailblazing brand in the femtech industry.
Backed by a formidable apparel conglomerate and embraced by women worldwide, Femography is more than just a brand – it’s a movement reshaping the menopause apparel industry. This feature dives into Femography’s journey and highlights a ‘cool’ gift idea for your friends and loved ones – figuratively and literally.
Powered by an apparel giant: a leap in women’s health
Femography distinguishes itself in the femtech space with the robust backing of MAS Holdings, a titan in South Asia’s apparel tech industry. This partnership propels Femography forward in a sector where a mere three per cent of women’s health-focused businesses have secured financing since 2011.
It marks a significant step in filling a gap in women’s health — a crucial but often overlooked area — positioning Femography as a visionary leader.
Scientific breakthrough meets lifestyle
The cornerstone of Femography’s success lies in its groundbreaking patented Anti-Flush™ Technology, ingeniously crafted to tackle the three stages of a hot flash, a predominant symptom of menopause.
This innovation transcends the boundaries of science, offering lifestyle solutions that blend seamlessly into everyday life. It’s this unique fusion of scientific ingenuity and practical utility that sets Femography apart, carving out its niche in the market.
Femography’s holistic product line
Femography’s product development approach is comprehensive and thoughtful. Their expansive product line, including Anti-Flush™ sleepwear, camisoles, panties, loungewear, tank tops, leggings and ultra absorbent underwear, is designed with the utmost care to ease menopause-related discomforts.
Each item in this diverse array is crafted to empower women, enabling them to lead fulfilling lives without the burdens of menopause symptoms.
Enter Become: pioneering change with Femography’s consumer brand
In an era when menopause was seldom addressed, Femography courageously launched Become, its consumer brand dedicated to menopause apparel. This bold initiative has led the way for seven years, transforming societal perceptions and dismantling stigmas around menopause.
Become has not only brought relief to countless women but has also been instrumental in evolving the market, cultivating a space where menopause is openly discussed and managed with dignity and understanding.
A cool gift idea: embrace the holiday spirit with Become
This holiday season, Femography invites you to reimagine gift-giving. Sharing Become’s revolutionary clothing with friends is a wonderful way to support those experiencing menopause. It’s more than a gift; it’s an expression of care, offering real comfort in daily life.
This thoughtful gesture of gifting cooling apparel is not only practical but also a symbol of empathy and unity. And what could be cooler than presenting a gift that brings literal and figurative coolness to someone’s life?
Femography’s broader impact as a leading B2B partner
Femography’s journey in the femtech revolution is marked not just by its technological innovation but also by its deep understanding of consumer needs.
While the holiday season offers a moment to focus on individual gifting, the broader, year-round scope of Femography’s impact lies in its role as a powerful B2B partner in the health and apparel sectors. This dual focus reflects Femography’s commitment to enhancing the lives of individual women and driving forward the industry as a whole.
By offering cutting-edge solutions like their Anti-Flush™ technology, Femography has set new standards in menopause apparel. Their innovative approach extends beyond product development to fostering meaningful collaborations with businesses and brands.
Femography amplifies its impact through these partnerships, making women’s health solutions more accessible and creating a global ripple effect of well-being and empowerment.
Telehealth platform launches corporate wellness programme to support menopausal women
Winona Corporate Wellness aims to assist businesses in fostering a supportive and inclusive environment
The US menopause telehealth company Winona has announced a new initiative to support menopausal women in the workplace.
The corporate wellness programme Winona Corporate Wellness aims to assist businesses in fostering a supportive and inclusive environment for women approaching menopause within their organisations.
Recognising the importance of addressing menopause-related challenges in the workplace, the company says it has designed the programme to empower women and enhance their wellbeing during a transformative phase of their lives.
“Empowering women through education and support during the menopause transition is not just our mission; it’s our obligation,” shared Winona’s head of PR, Angela Stubbs.
“When we share knowledge and resources, we empower women to reclaim their health, happiness, and vitality.
“Winona Corporate Wellness is not only a commitment to the wellbeing of women but also a strategic investment in a diverse and thriving workforce.
“By providing companies with the tools and resources they need to support their menopausal employees, Winona aims to drive positive change across workplaces and industries.”
Every day in the US 6,000 women hit menopause, which is defined as starting 12 months after a woman’s last period.
On average, they reach menopause at 51, but perimenopause can occur much earlier. This lead-up period, when hormones can fluctuate wildly and symptoms may be at their worst and most unpredictable, lasts four to seven years, although in some cases it can extend as long as a decade.
The Winona Corporate Wellness programme aims to provide women with resources, guidance, and a platform for open conversations to allow companies to champion women’s health and productivity.
The initiative also includes expert-led seminars and workshops to educate employees and management about menopause as well as telehealth services and virtual consultations with healthcare professionals specialising in menopause care.
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