Femtech or Female technology is a term applied to a category technological tools that focus on women's health. This sector includes providing digital assistance to women regarding fertility solutions, pregnancy, period tracking, sexual wellness, and reproductive system health care.
Historically, there hasn't been a specific women-oriented tech market. Also, companies which manufactured and marketed products explicitly aimed at women consumers have failed. This, however, is changing in recent years. Many startups and companies have realized the gap left by major tech companies in producing digital products explicitly aimed at women's needs. In 2015, Femtech startups raised around $82 million in funding from investment firms. The total amount of funding raised by the femtech companies since 2014 had reached a staggering $1.1 billion, in a report released in 2017.
Femtech and its Applications
Femtech is helping women in the following ways:
1. Femtech for Period Tracking
The market is already flooded with menstrual cycle tracking apps. These mobile applications calculate and predict a user's menstrual cycle, fertility window, and premenstrual syndrome. They also inform users about the most or least likely time for pregnancy for women planning to have a baby. These apps also track users across numerous other health categories, including body temperature, sleep, pain, exercise, sex, digestion, emotions, and energy. They help keep track of non-fertile and ovulation days so women can plan for pregnancy or minimize the risk of unwanted pregnancy. The apps can also explain how birth control pills or emergency contraceptive pills impact fertility and include a reminder feature for taking pills. One of the major and popular applications in this segment is Clue which is co-founded by Ida Tin, who coined the term 'femtech.' 'Clue' is integrated with Apple Inc.'s HealthKit. It allows data such as menstruation, body temperature, sexual activity, and spotting to be synced directly to the app. Other similar companies create products like a wristband to monitors women's monthly cycle. The tracker collects data on sleep, breathing, and blood flow, and helps women get pregnant more easily by informing them their most fertile days each month. Femtech apps and devices have made it much easier for women to track their menstrual cycle easily with complete privacy.
2. Femtech for Pregnancy and Nursing Care
As period-tracking apps track women's ovulation days, they can help couples who are planning on having a baby. Women can keep track of their most fertile days and plan sexual intercourse accordingly for increasing the chances of becoming pregnant. Femtech also helps guide women through their pregnancy and in providing post-pregnancy care. Apps and wearable trackers can monitor body changes during pregnancy. The data collected with these apps can be shared easily with a doctor allowing for easier assistance. Doctors can easily keep a tab on the health of pregnant women, guiding them through the course of pregnancy. Health tracking apps and devices also help in neonatal care. The data shared between the user and doctor is private, and women can be assured of confidentiality. The health of the newborn baby can be monitored conveniently using digital wearables and syncing the data with the app. It provides for better care of the newborn baby as well as the mother. Reminders about feeding time, booking medical appointments, and neonatal care can be provided using femtech apps.
Devices such as the Elvie pump help women who are unable to lactate sufficiently. Femtech also helps women who are unable to conceive naturally or have a rough experience in an earlier pregnancy. Many femtech companies offer services like IVF, egg freezing, and other similar treatments helpful for conceiving. Overall, femtech can help in assisting women right from pre-pregnancy to pregnancy to post-pregnancy stage.
3. Femtech for Women’s Reproductive Health Care System
There is a lot of stigma around a woman's menstrual cycle and menstruation. Very few women have the privilege of buying sanitary products freely or even have complete information about the options available to them. Many women, especially in rural areas, are still unaware of sanitary options like menstrual cup and tampons. Such lack of attention towards one's hygiene can be changed as more people, including women, have access to an internet device. Women can be educated about menstrual hygiene, various products available to them for their sanitary needs through the internet. Awareness about maintaining the hygiene of their private parts can be spread through infographic apps. Many companies have already manufactured devices and clothing aimed specifically at women's health care system. Thinx has developed blood absorbing underwear which is reusable. It provides for a far better option than one-time-use sanitary pads, which is the most popular choice amongst women. Many other companies offer alternatives to standard tampons and condoms. Femtech is also used to manufacture smart devices that can help women through menstrual pain. Livia is a wearable device that helps provide relief from menstrual cramps at the touch of a button. It stimulates nerves to provide relief from menstrual cramps.
4. Femtech for Beauty Products
Beauty companies can leverage AI and ML for providing better services to their customers regarding their beauty products. Facial recognition technology helps determine the user's facial features and helps to decide the user which beauty product to buy. Apps developed using facial recognition and tracking can show with accuracy the shades and colors of various beauty products like lipsticks, lip gloss, eyeshadows, foundation. This methodology can also be applied to wearables, such as sunglasses or jewelry. The users can choose at the comfort of their homes and get the product delivered right at their doorstep. The user can decide accordingly and place an order online without the need for going to an outlet. Such apps are beneficial in saving costs for the companies too as digital services are cheaper than traditional brick and mortar stores. Femtech beauty apps and services are the most helpful for small businesses who can't afford to open a store. Femtech helps to connect these small businesses with customers all over the world and help in their growth.
5. Femtech for Sexual Wellness
Even in today's day and age, women's sexual needs and sexual health are often ignored. There is a taboo around the topic of sexual needs and sexual well-being of women in general. Femtech can provide a solution by which women can satisfy their sexual needs discreetly. Women can confidently purchase devices according to their sexual needs. Many companies have started manufacturing smart devices for women's sexual wellness as more women are confident today, talking about their sexuality and sexual needs more than before. There are app-controlled vibrators available which women can use according to their needs. Elvie manufactures a kegel training device that can be used to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. Femtech has helped women to satisfy their sexual needs and achieve sexual pleasure at their convenience. As tech firms continue to diversify and focus on women-specific needs, it means a potential boon for the femtech industry. It is predicted that the femtech market has the potential to reach $50 billion by 2025. Femtech promises to have women’s back through every stage of life, across borders, languages, and cultures. However, there's still a long way to go towards that goal.