Managing women's health: 5 unique takes on femtech

Women’s health has been historically under-studied and has only recently come to the foreground of healthcare technology, with investment in femtech initiatives rising significantly in the past few years.
By Cara Dartnell-Steinberg
10:08 am
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Investment in femtech initiatives has been rising significantly in the past few years.

Evaluations made in 2019 suggest that €180bn is being spent on femtech products each year. Despite this, investment has predominantly focused on infertility and reproduction, as opposed to treating female medical issues.

As Ridhi Tariyal, co-founder of Nextgen Jane highlights, “We wish we could go out there and say we just want to diagnose women’s diseases. But investors have responded with “Where’s the money in that?”

While there is still ample room for development in the future, here are five promising tools for women’s health management that might be worth checking out.

FertilityIQ

FertilityIQ is an online resource that compiles data and research to allow users to make informed decisions on finding the right doctors and treatments for infertility issues. The data can be contextualised to the consumer’s fertility history, background and budget. It features detailed assessments and reviews on doctors, clinics and the treatment protocols they employ from experts and from patients. The website also includes a diverse range of courses which explain complex information and data from studies to educate users. Examples of these are courses on African American fertility, Endometriosis and surrogacy for gay dads.

Nextgen Jane

Nextgen Jane is developing advanced technology using a smart tampon which is worn for two hours and then sent to a lab for testing of endometriosis and other reproductive disorders. This allows for convenient engagement with healthcare as the tampon is a format most women are familiar with and can easily be mailed in.

“Menstrual effluence acts as a natural biopsy of the female reproductive tract, enabling unprecedented access to tissues for diagnosing diseases,” says Ridhi Tariyal, co-founder and CEO of NextGen Jane.

Flex

Flex is a new, innovative approach to menstrual products. It is not a cup, pad or tampon but a disposable menstrual disc. Unlike tampons or menstrual cups, it is positioned just past the vaginal canal in the same place as the diaphragm and once there, cannot be felt at all. It lasts up to 12 hours and due to its unique placing, can be worn during sleep, exercise, swimming or sex without the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome. It can hold as much as 3 super tampons. Flex claims that the disc reduces cramps in up to 60% of users and reduces dryness in up to 80% of users.

The Pill Club

The Pill Club was started by a former Duke University medical student and co-creator of a family planning startup who personally experienced the difficulties people face when trying to get birth control. The Pill Club hopes to expand access to reproductive health care and provide information so patients can make informed choices. The process begins with an online consultation and a team of doctors and practitioners will then help select the appropriate form of birth control that is prescribed and delivered to the patient.

Maven Clinic

The Maven Clinic is a virtual clinic dedicated to women’s and family health. The online company hopes to improve access to healthcare by providing on-demand expert advice. On the website, users are able to video chat or message with practitioners 24 hours a day and can also virtually meet OB-GYNs, therapists, nutritionists, paediatricians and other experts. The company has recently raised $27m (€24m) to support its Family Benefits platform that supports working mothers and new parents. The money will also be used to introduce a breast milk shipping service, allowing parents to return to work with more ease.

"Maven is offering services that are a win for working women, a win for their families, a win for employers and a win for the global economy," said Nancy Brown, partner with Oak HC/FT (an investor in Maven). "By providing outstanding fertility, maternity and return-to-work support, Maven can help close the gap and encourage a more diverse workforce."