Women are not the same as men. It seems obvious, but our bodies are different. Not just our reproductive organs, but right down to the level of each cell that makes up our bodies. Because of this, many aspects of male and female biology are different. Medicine has largely ignored this fact leading to a sex or gender gap in healthcare. But luckily, new technologies within a newly coined category ‘FemTech’ are here to help women take control of their own health.
What is FemTech?
FemTech is short for female technology. The term refers to a wide range of artificial intelligence, machine learning, software, diagnostics, products and services specifically targeting women’s health. This covers areas like menstrual health, pelvic and reproductive health, menopause and general health and wellness issues. The FemTech industry is skyrocketing, with the market forecast to grow to $60 billion by 2027 .
Most FemTech products aim to solve specific issues throughout a woman’s life span. These innovations in tech are giving women the power to advocate for their own health. The solutions are often made BY women, FOR women and are filling huge gaps that have formed within the space of women’s health.
From fertility to pelvic health to sextech: What are some examples of FemTech innovations?
There are a range of diverse and innovative start-ups in this area. Consider kegg for example, this product can help you predict your most fertile days. It’s a medical device that uses state-of-the-art tech to measure the properties of internal cervical mucus. Or FemFit, another medical device designed to not only remind you to do your kegel exercises but also to teach you how to do them properly. This will reduce the burden on the one in three women who will suffer from urinary incontinence.
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In the health and wellness space, Bellabeat create fitness trackers. These aren’t just normal trackers. Instead of the typical smart watch, Bellabeat creates smart jewellery that looks good and is actually designed for women, syncing with the menstrual cycle. Speaking of smart products, Lioness have developed a smart vibrator. This collects data during use through embedded sensors to support research in the area of female pleasure.
Menopause, typically a taboo subject, is finding a new voice with products like the Embr Labs cooling bracelet, a bracelet that provides immediate relief to hot flashes. There are even companies developing smart undies for testing/monitoring of STIs and smart tampons for using menstrual blood to test for health. The opportunities are limitless.
What are some examples of AI in the FemTech space?
Artificial intelligence approaches are also being used in FemTech applications. Putting more control in the consumers (women’s) hands. For example, Wild.AI is using AI to enable women to train smarter. This accounts for the fact that women’s bodies change monthly and during their lifetime due to hormones. Wild.AI have created a mobile app for female athletes to tap into inputs like menstrual cycles, digestion, daily activities, and sleep to optimise their physical performance. In very basic terms, this app uses a bunch of data and machine learning methods to continuously adapt and optimise the user’s performance.
Presagen AI Enhanced Healthcare is another great example of the benefits of tech and AI. In the space of FemTech, their Life Whisperer technology uses AI to analyse images of embryos, selecting the healthiest ones to improve pregnancy outcomes for couples struggling with fertility.
Knowledge is power: Education alongside FemTech innovations
Many FemTech innovators also provide educational resources. This allows women to understand what is happening with their body, and why. This can fight the lack of information, or sometimes the misinformation, typically available. The ability to take control of our own health depends on having access to the right information.
The future of FemTech
Technology is revolutionising so many aspects of our life and women’s health is no different. My favourite definition of FemTech is “where health and technology collide to transform the future of women’s healthcare.” We expect amazing innovations to continue to occur in this space – so remember the term ‘FemTech’ and keep an eye on this space.
By Dr Kelly Burrowes, Founder of The FemTech Revolution
Kelly is an Associate Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Auckland. She has a PhD in Bioengineering and has worked as a researcher for nearly 20 years. Her work focuses on developing new methods for measuring, predicting, and understanding how the body works. Kelly founded The FemTech Revolution in 2021 in part to address the sex gap in women’s health support. Her mission is to bring amazing FemTech innovations to the women of New Zealand (and Australia). Alongside this she wants to build a resource and a community to ensure women are better informed about the amazing technologies within the space of women’s health.
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