Healthcare advancements through technology represent the future of medicine. Accelerated by the global pandemic in 2020, telemedicine revealed the need for our healthcare industry and healthcare providers to play catch-up with technological advancements. Another sector of the tech industry predicted to catapult into the public eye by emphasizing women’s health and eradicating the taboos around women’s health needs is FemTech.
Women, per capita, spend more on healthcare on men and are more likely to be involved in their healthcare as per research done by BBC. Women, often underrepresented in global medical research despite being disproportionately affected by certain types of diseases, have taken more ownership of their bodies and rightfully demand solutions. Tech start-ups, some two hundred in number backed by investors who see the potential, see a solution in FemTech .
According to GM Insights, software, products, and services that see technology as a tool to enhance women’s health are known collectively as FemTech. At present, the target products include menstruation-tracking apps, solutions to fertility issues for women and men, the overall health of the female reproductive system, contraception and pregnancy-related apps, and general health and wellness .
When it comes to fertility issues, surrogacy has long been known to be an alternative offered by surrogacy service agencies, such as ACRC Global Surrogacy Agency. With the surrogacy process, the egg and sperm of aspiring parents are fertilized in the laboratory, and the embryo is embedded in the uterus of the surrogate mother (known or anonymous). The surrogate mother carries the fetus until it develops and matures, and is, consequently born into the world.
So, how does FemTech plays a role in the surrogacy process?
Ever since in vitro fertilization (laboratory-grown) and surrogacy came to existence, they’re already considered a form of technology. Many parents who can’t conceive or are infertile seek this option as a treatment. While the technology is continuously being improved, parents are obliged to undergo intense preparation before making a final decision.
The surrogacy process involves the use of medical technology, which is a form of FemTech as it greatly concerns women. One way to protect the rights of the child is to view the process as ‘adoption’ instead of medical treatment. This way, the surrogacy process establishes parental responsibility, shifting the focus from the aspiring parents to the child. Hence, the paper recommends that parental responsibilities relating to children born out of the surrogacy process won’t be transferred to the parents until after childbirth and the legal adoption process.
Despite being previously classified as a niche market trend, FemTech is trending toward making an explosive and lasting comeback as the face for accessible tools that tackle female healthcare issues experienced by women on a global scale. FemTech companies emphasize the need to treat female reproductive diseases and increase medical research and provider education on the impact of gender in medicine. Financially, FemTech represents a global market predicted to bring in revenues of nearly $50 billion by 2025 [1,6].
The Global Wellness Summit trends forecasting team combines expert advice from worldwide academics, economists, and corporations to find health and wellness trends that become multi-billion-dollar markets, the latest of which include a surge in fertility and wellness technology .
Devices like Kegg use impedance, a sensing technology to analyze cervical fluid for electrolyte changes through a cloud and deliver results directly to the user’s smartphone . Other earlier FemTech start-ups like Glow, launched in 2013, act as a fertility tracking app while others are ovulation trackers like Zurich-based start-up Ava .
FemTech offers an opportunity for both women and men to improve their overall reproductive health, a topic previously discussed in hushed tones at doctor’s offices. Male reproductive issues cause approximately one-third of all infertility cases. Since 2019, the FemTech industry has seen an influx of products directed toward measuring and tracking male sperm counts.
While companies have made accessible and personalized resources to educate both users and society about women’s health needs, FemTech creators like Lea von Bidder of Ava emphasize the need for working closely with medical researchers and providers to find lasting solutions for women.
FemTech has made strides toward creating tools for assisting and educating physicians, seen in Baymatob’s medical hardware device that replaced the long-used cardiotocograph that monitors contractions and fetal heartbeat . Using technology and data collection can ensure and improve a woman’s right to be healthy and allows healthcare providers to care for their female patients effectively.
Just shy of three decades ago, the United States National Institute of Health mandated female inclusion in clinical trials. While making moves toward bridging the gap between female representation, clinical trials do not necessarily represent women of all ages, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds that factor into the health issues that plague women globally . Medical research, to improve the gender gap in diagnostic and treatment medicine, can serve to learn from and invest in these tech start-up companies .
One option is to improve female leadership in medicine and medical research, as well as to improve the representation of people of color to bridge the gap. By inviting a diverse group to sit at the table of capital decision-making regarding medical research and tech start-up companies, the growth of the FemTech industry brings innovative options for medical researchers and providers to offer lasting health solutions to women regarding their health and wellness.