When you think of women’s health, your mind might not jump to an industry on the forefront of technological innovation. This is especially true when you consider that women often have their health issues ignored, their pain dismissed in medical settings, and their natural bodily processes waved away as ‘taboo’.
What is Femtech?
Femtech refers to any technology that aims to improve the lives of women (or anyone with female anatomy). It’s a category that’s seen a recent boom, with an explosion of Femtech startups offering innovative solutions to women’s health problems. Everything from fertility to endometriosis is being tackled with new, data-driven solutions. And with billions in venture capitalist funding pouring into the Femtech market, it’s an upward trend that’s unlikely to be going away anytime soon.
With the amount of Femtech products and services growing all the time, we’ve identified six of the biggest movers and shakers within the Femtech industry in 2019.
The Biggest Movers and Shakers in Femtech
Clue is a Femtech app used for tracking menstrual health. It helps people who menstruate keep tabs on their cycles, and it educates them about their bodies along the way.
The app is free, grounded in science, and AI-driven, can be used to track periods and ovulation, using an algorithm to determine when each of these windows should fall in a given month. It also allows you to monitor a wide variety of other things, including appetite, pain levels, and even how oily your hair is on a day-by-day basis. The more you use the app, the more Clue learns and adapts its predictions.
The revolution of the menstrual cycle is all in a day’s work for Clue. As the app is used, it offers up plenty of research-based information, with a no-nonsense approach that presents valuable medical info without unnecessary frills. Clue acts as a hub of information on women’s health, designed to counter the lack of readily-available resources that are accurate and science-based. You can find helpful articles on everything from birth control to menopause in the Clue Encyclopedia, all backed by science.
Since being founded in 2013 by Ida Tin, Clue has raised $30 million in funding and garnered over 10 million users; when it comes to the overwhelming array of period tracking apps available, it’s emerged as a firm favourite.
Fertility science meets wearable tech with Tempdrop, the Femtech company that uses body temperature to help women track their cycles.
On the surface, the Tempdrop product is an armband that measures core temperature while you sleep – but in reality, it’s a whole lot smarter than that. The tracker, which fits comfortably in your armpit overnight, has two temperature sensors and a motion sensor, and is built to sense patterns in sleeping temperature. Its clever algorithm means Tempdrop works for everyone, even if you’re an inconsistent sleeper, have irregular cycles, or have PCOS.
What’s the point in measuring basal body temperature? It all comes down to understanding your cycle, and helping people to utilise the science in the way they want to – whether that’s avoiding pregnancy, helping them get pregnant, or just getting in tune with the way their body works. Tempdrop delivers all of this handy info in an app.
Since Tempdrop was founded in 2012 by Michael Vardi, it has raised nearly $25 million in Crowdfunding.
Thinx sell tech-infused underwear, designed to replace the traditional period products that are long due an upgrade.
Comfort, sustainability, and function are what the Thinx products are all about. Their underwear is simple, but effective; made from breathable, highly-absorbent materials; and made to make the lives of those who menstruate easier. They’re designed to replace traditional tampons and pads, or just add an extra layer of protection. And, crucially, the fact that they’re reusable means they have the potential to reduce the waste produced during menstruation.
Femtech has welcomed many varieties of ‘period-proof underwear’ into its ranks, but Thinx have managed to create a stand-out brand with their promise of quality and inclusivity (alongside their beautiful branding). Breaking the taboo around menstruation is a common theme amongst Femtech products, thanks in part to the larger proportion of women at the helm.
Thinx launched in 2011, and has raised $2 million in funding so far.
Femtech startup Elvie develops modern hardware for the modern woman. Their silent, wearable breast pumps and smart pelvic floor trainers are revolutionising out-of-date industries.
Elvie are known for their sleek, simple designs that pack a technological punch, disrupting the women’s health sector with sophisticated tech that addresses real issues. The Elvie Pump, the brand’s wearable breast pump, represents a much-needed modernisation of what came before – noisy, plugged-in hardware which the brand describes as being better suited for ‘dairy cows’. Born to fulfill the needs of the modern mum, the Elvie Pump is small, light, portable, and silent. The Elvie Trainer, a smart Kegel trainer, is another step in the right direction for women’s health, tackling the surprisingly common problem of a weak pelvic floor which results in incontinence for many women.
Elvie are dedicated to taking on ‘taboo’ topics (like breastfeeding and incontinence) and normalising them. Their recent ad campaign, featuring ‘Bobo’ and ‘Bladder’, was created to challenge the stigma surrounding incontinence. It’s the latest in a ton of bold advertising by the brand, all designed to raise awareness of women’s health issues and get people talking.
Since it was founded in 2013 by Tania Boler, Elvie has raised over $53 million in funding.
Next Gen Jane
NextGen Jane are a Femtech startup at the forefront of biotechnology. They’re developing a smart tampon that can detect diseases like endometriosis, which frequently impacts quality of life and fertility.
Using the endometrial lining as ‘the body’s natural biopsy’, the team at NextGen Jane are making it possible to capture data from periods, detect disease, and make improvements to the women’s health industry using data-driven innovation. It’s no small task, but it’s also of no small importance – the smart tampon aims to replace current methods of diagnosing endometriosis, which are invasive, outdated, and in dire need of re-engineering.
NextGen Jane was founded by Ridhi Tariyal in 2014, and has raised $11.3 million in funding. You can sign up now to be a beta-tester for their smart tampon over on their website.
Ava is all about helping women to track the physiological signs of fertility. They’ve created a wearable bracelet to monitor health, detect the fertile window, and track pregnancy.
The bracelet, which is worn while you sleep, tracks five different physiological signals of fertility. Ava’s algorithm then establishes patterns and detects the five most fertile days within a cycle, presenting them in real-time via an app. All of this results in better knowledge of individual menstrual cycles, and a way more accurate prediction of where the fertile window falls for each wearer (averaging around 89% accuracy).
More and more women are turning to Femtech when they struggle to conceive. Part of the value that Ava brings is the real-time nature of their fertility predictions – the ability to detect the very beginning of the fertile window gives women a big headstart compared to traditional methods, which only detect the final day or two.
Ava was founded in 2014 by Lea von Bidder, and has raised over $42 million in funding.
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