Femtech has gained traction in recent years and is set to become a huge industry. Henri Kornmann explains why femtech is crucial in today’s society and outlines the challenges that we’ll need to overcome for these technologies to become widespread.
Coined in 2016, the term ‘femtech’ – a contraction of ‘female’ and ‘technology’ – describes technologies that cater to women’s healthcare needs.
Until recently, many aspects of women’s health were largely neglected by the healthcare industry. Take, for instance, endometriosis, a painful condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows in other places, such as the ovaries. It affects 10% of women and is responsible for 50% of fertility issues. Yet, due to limited screening options, it can take between seven and ten years to be diagnosed with the condition and even then, women have limited options for treatment. This is just one example. Each year, 8 million globally women suffer from a urinary tract infection, 1 in 8 couples have fertility issues and 10–20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. Such statistics show that we need to address health issues specific to women more effectively.
It is no wonder, then, that the femtech industry has boomed in recent years and it will no doubt continue to thrive. Until now, the majority of femtech companies focused on menstruation and fertility solutions for women between the ages of 20 and 40. There are therefore many opportunities for growth, including technologies aimed at other age groups, such as teenagers or women over the age of 50 (to help, for instance, with osteoporosis or health issues related to the menopause). Our growing ability to leverage data will also result in apps and other technology to better diagnose and monitor women’s health worldwide.
Each year, 8 million women suffer from a urinary tract infection, 1 in 8 couples have fertility issues, and 10–20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage.
The scope of femtech will expand geographically, too. Much of today’s activity is taking place in the UK and the US, while still emerging in continental Europe. There is huge potential to spread to other parts of the world, for instance Asia, the Middle East and Africa. For these technologies to become mainstream, we’ll need to overcome the cultural barriers and taboos surrounding women’s health. To do so, we must show how these technologies are not mere gadgets; they deliver real value to societies. Success stories that demonstrate the impact of femtech could help when it comes to changing people’s attitudes.
The stakes for overcoming these barriers are huge. When we help a woman, this has a ripple effect – we help her whole family and community. In years to come, femtech could be greatly beneficial, not just to women’s health, but to whole societies.
For these technologies to become mainstream, we’ll need to overcome the cultural barriers and taboos surrounding women’s health.