“Women’s health needs to be front and center – it often isn’t, but it needs to be”
– Cynthia Nixon
Femtech, a portmanteau of female technology, refers to all technology that focuses on female health and sexuality. The term was coined in 2016 by Ida Tin, founder of the app Clue where users can keep track of their menstruation cycle. Femtech consists of four categories: fertility & menstruation, pregnancy & aftercare, pelvic & cervical health and general health .
Applications & benefits
Femtech is a broad term that is mostly gaining ground within the category of holistic tracking and self tests, i.e. DIY Diagnostics. Countless apps are available for tracking pregnancy or menstruation cycles [2,3]. This physiological data serves as an indication of health and can be used to detect irregularities and disease . In addition, more and more self tests are appearing on the market . They provide an easy way of testing fertility, STDs and even endometriosis, improving our health insights and facilitating pregnancy or its prevention [4, 6]. Then there are all kinds of gadgets such as smart breast pumps or devices for training weakened pelvic floor muscles – after pregnancy . And there are patient portals to connect female patients and healthcare providers [8, 9]. In addition to technology aimed specifically at female organs, there are apps and gadgets that support general female well-being. They focus on mental health, diet, fitness and sexual well-being .
The femtech market is experiencing explosive growth. In 2012, investments in femtech totalled a ‘mere’ $57 million. By 2018, that figure grew to $392 million . The total global market value of femtech is expected to increase from $18.8 billion to over $60 billion between 2018 and 2027 . Large companies have come on board as well: in 2015, Apple introduced a menstruation diary to the iPhone and in 2018 Fitbit added the same functionality to their smartwatches .
Growing connectivity and improved data infrastructure
Changing healthcare needs
Increased awareness and growing acceptance
ze_icon name=icon-belemmering-privacygevoeligheid] Privacy sensitivity
Data leads to misinterpretation
Immaturity of the application
Some applications of femtech and the trend as a whole remain quite immature, in part because of lacking exposure and a stigma that remains on topics such as female sexual well-being. Investments are lagging behind but femtech is gaining more and more attention. Healthcare needs are changing: women live longer, become mothers later in life and have more reproductive control than ever. In addition, chronic and infectious diseases among the global female population are set to rise in the years ahead, which is another driver of the market . Plus, the trend is amplified by growing acceptance and attention for gender equality, feminism and female representation.
Femtech is on the rise. Healthcare is paying more attention to the end user which is leading to the recognition of differences. More specific services are on offer with more attention to women and their health as a result. Despite several privacy, reliability and accessibility-related challenges, femtech is growing rapidly and this trend is set to continue. Femtech gives women more control and insight into their health, significantly contributing to the empowered patient.
- Sullivan, F., Femtech: Digital Revolution in Women’s Health, 2018 [Available from: https://ww2.frost.com/files/1015/2043/3691/Frost__Sullivan_Femtech.pdf]
- Glowing, Modern care for your fertility, 2018 [Available from: https://glowing.com/]
- HelloClue, Track your period and ovulation with Clue to understand how your body works, 2019 [Available from: https://helloclue.com/]
- Fitzpatrick, M.B. and A.S. Thakor, Advances in Precision Health and Emerging Diagnostics for Women, J Clin Med, 2019. 8(10).
- NextGenJane, Finding new ways, together, 2019 [Available from: https://www.nextgenjane.com/]
- Shondaland, Your Tampon Could Save Your Life, 2018 [Available from: https://www.shondaland.com/live/body/a20117227/ridhi-tariyal/]
- Pumping, Unplugged, 2019 [Available from: https://www.elvie.com/]
- PinkTrainer, 2019 [Available from: https://pinktrainer.nl/]
- Maven Clinic, Women’s and family healthcare the way it should be, 2019 [Available from: https://www.mavenclinic.com/]
- Lioness, Meet Lioness, 2019 [Available from: https://lioness.io/]
- Lu, D., The femtech gold rush, New Scientist, 2019, 242(3232): p. 20-21.
- Emergen Research, Femtech Market Size Worth USD 60.01 Billion By 2027, 2021 [Available from https://www.emergenresearch.com/press-release/global-femtech-market]
- Tincture, Femtech is hot and Fitbit knows it, 2018 [Available from: https://tincture.io/femtech-is-hot-and-fitbit-knows-it-f4c8f1a6d469]