What is femtech and why do I love it?
What is it?
Femtech is the use of technology to enhance women’s health; everything from physical products, apps to solutions. Ida Tin, the founder of Clue, a cycle tracking brand, created the term. She felt a need for a category that brought together all the innovation that was happening around female health. And the medical research or pain gap is the primary reason why we need femtech. Simply, we know less about female biology than we do male.
What falls under Femtech?
1. Fertility or period tracking
The category most people are familiar with is menstrual cycle or period tracking. This is where Clue comes in and also other companies like Natural Cycles and Flo Health. There are now lots of cycle trackers on the market. The wider public has widely adopted this type of technology.
Also, within this category are fertility products. Here, people use the technology to identify when they will ovulate or to define their fertile window. Different brands use different tools to monitor the biological markers relating to fertility. Ava Women, for example, is a wearable which monitors your temperature. And, Inne, is a salvia based solution which involves inputting a sample into a unique home-monitoring tool.
And we’re also increasingly seeing innovation around fertility services like IVF in femtech. These platforms are helping people find IVF clinics or assisting in the overall process, for example.
The next big category is the menopause. It’s only been in the last five years that people have had conversations about what the menopause is. Increasingly the mainstream media is covering it, and there has been a rise in the publication of books on the subject. It’s a vast category because all women will go through it but despite this many people understand very little about it. Femtech products in this area either support the symptoms or counter the impact of the symptoms. For example, conversation is turning to how employers need to adjust their workplace guidelines to better support women going through the menopause. Companies like Peppy are working with employers to create official guidelines for their employees.
3. Sexual wellness.
As you can imagine, stigma and taboo riddle this topic. But it is vitally important when we talk about women’s health. Sex is a crucial part of a woman feeling well and healthy. The innovation here focuses on education around pleasure as well as removing shame. Brands in this category are encouraging women to explore their pleasure. Ferly, for example, is an audio guide to sexual wellness. Using technology in this way helps provide a softer gateway into sex without feeling too exploitative or overbearing.
4. Conditions specific to women
This area of femtech focuses on conditions or diseases which only affect the female sex. This includes things like endometriosis and PMDD. Here, the need for innovation is because of a severe lack of funding or interest by the medical profession for centuries. And it’s linked to ‘hysteria’ – a medical phrase used for many years that said the things women were complaining about were merely in their heads. But, we know in the UK, the average diagnosis for endometriosis is seven and a half years. During this time, women are living with chronic pain which makes innovation in this area vital. Here we have the likes of Syrona, an app to track endometriosis symptoms. One of the key benefits of femtech is data. As I said previously, currently, there is a medical data gender gap. In other words, we know more about male biology than we do female. Having access to data in this way means women can go to their doctor’s appointment armed with information to demonstrate the truth of their situation.
5. Conditions with sex disparity
Here we’re talking affect conditions that affect both sexes but to date have only been researched or medicated with the male sex in mind—things like cardiac or heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. For example, medicine has long said that men and women have the same heart attack symptoms. When actually, it’s not the case. While for Alzheimer’s, more women than men get it. Historically we’ve just said: ‘well, it’s because women live longer.’ But now research suggests there could be a hormonal connections that mean post-menopausal women are more susceptible to Alzheimer’s.
Watching and learning more about why I love femtech
So there’s my overview of femtech. If you’re keen to understand more, this video explains further about femtech, why I love it, and why it’s so important. Give it a watch and let me know if you have any questions: