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The Rise of FemTech: Bridging the Gender Gap in Women’s Healthcare

The transformative FemTech market, projected to reach $103 billion by 2030, is rethinking women’s health, addressing disparities, and embracing “taboo” subjects like infertility and mental health.

Historical Lack of Resources and Support

Women’s health has suffered from a lack of resources and support, leading to severe consequences. For example, women have experienced stronger drug side effects than men in more than 90% of cases, primarily due to their underrepresentation in clinical trials. This issue is just one example of the far-reaching implications of this historical gap.

This oversight has led to a history of medical gaslighting and subpar healthcare outcomes for women. Conditions like endometriosis, PCOS, and high miscarriage rates have remained poorly understood.

The Rise of FemTech Startups

Recognizing the urgency of these concerns, emerging startups are taking the lead in bridging the gender gap in healthcare. The recent surge of “FemTech,” referring to women’s health-related tech startups, showcases the increasing adoption of new technology to support women’s health. The term “FemTech” was coined in 2016 and has clearly gained fast traction from there, already valued globally at $6Bn in 2022. Many of these new companies are built by women, for women, and are increasingly funded by an emerging group of female investors.

Leading Companies in the FemTech World

Some examples of larger companies in the FemTech world are the UK-based Elvie, known for its smart breast pumps and virtual pelvic floor trainers, and Diana Health, which recently closed $34 million in series B funding to expand its tech-enabled OBGYN and women’s health services. This momentum marks a shift from FemTech as a niche industry to a more mainstream role, signifying a positive trend for women’s health.

As the market grows, we expect to see many FemTech “disruptors” in the industry helping to pave a new way forward. At the same time, it is important to note that the partnerships between brick and mortar health clinics and these tech-enabled startups are instrumental to incorporating and distributing new solutions. Innovation works best when it partners with well-established and experienced providers. For example, Diana Health partners with hospitals to effectively distribute its patient-centered care to the people who need it most.

Diversity, Inclusion, and the “Taboo”

FemTech startups have also played an instrumental role in confronting previously “taboo” subjects such as sexual and mental health. Unfortunately, fertility also falls into this category as a stigmatized subject that has historically prevented women from sharing their IVF or surrogacy experiences.

Additionally, in recognizing the underrepresentation of women, it is also very important  to be cognizant of other marginalized identities in healthcare. It is our hope that FemTech continues to strive for inclusive care across all different backgrounds and identities.

To this end, it is essential to acknowledge that there are huge disparities within women’s health and within the fertility industry specifically. Various factors, including race, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, disabilities, and other intersectional identities, significantly impact access to care and patient outcomes. For example, only 8% of Black women are able to seek out fertility treatment (compared to 15% of White women) when Black women are twice as likely to experience infertility. Many BIPOC women also have to face the stigma of hyper fertility and sexualization, leading many women of color to not feel comfortable talking about experiences of infertility.

Looking Forward

This rise in FemTech companies is no coincidence but has grown out of a desperate need for better solutions for women. The tide of emerging startups surrounding fertility and women’s health is an important inflection that we hope points to a brighter future for all patients and intended parents. Sunfish is proud to be a part of this changing tide.