FemTech Trends 2021: Challenges and Opportunities
FemTech is a young market focused on developing software, devices, diagnostics, and services to improve women's health. As the market is still maturing, many new developments are happening.
Many reasons contribute to the sector's growth, but two major ones are:
Women are tired of being underserved in the healthcare sector;
More women go for tech roles, which brings more talents to develop the technology.
Although FemTech faces many obstacles that hinder its development, challenges create opportunities and innovative ideas. In this article, I want to go through challenges and new trends that emerge in FemTech.
Let's start from the elephant in the room - the Covid-19 pandemic that has affected everyone's lives. Unfortunately, women's lives have been hit disproportionately more than those of men. Many women lost their jobs, have been pushed to domestic labor, and lost access to essential health care.
With restricted access to health care, women can't attend regular check-ups, increasing their risks of developing undetected diseases in the future. They also lack access to birth control and abortions, which in the future is very likely to increase unintended pregnancies and expand the gender gap even more. Without access to safe birth control and abortions, more women, especially minorities, lose economic independence and risk being pushed into poverty.
Challenges spiral further with limited access to maternity care for both mothers and infants, leading to undetected illnesses and other long-term health issues.
However, not all challenges and changes are negative. The pandemic also highlighted the need for accessible health care, which in turn expedited the growth of startups and companies that work on delivering medical services to your home.
Also, the taboo about women's health concerns is slowly shattering, with people being more concerned about the attention and quality of health care services they receive.
The challenges of yesterday create solutions for tomorrow. Here are five major trends that are and will be leading the FemTech sector in the upcoming years.
FemTech trends 2021
Online healthcare services
For many, going to a doctor’s office to get a prescription for birth control can be difficult, especially for women who live in rural or more conservative areas where access to birth control is limited or they have no access at all. But that's slowly changing as more FemTech companies work towards bringing birth control straight to your doorstep.
86% of people agree that online birth control delivery is more accessible and affordable, according to a recent study. Birth control prescriptions and even fertility tests can be quickly done in the comfort of your own home. This transition started before the crisis, but with the COVID-19 pandemic restricting in-person medical services, online deliveries surged.
Home STI test kits are another emerging home delivery service. Many women can’t receive STI diagnostics due to the conservative health care community, shame, and stigma that surrounds sexually transmitted infections. Home STI tests are safe, easy, and accurate and could help reduce the rapid spread of STIs, detecting infections in the early stages.
Investment in FemTech
It's predicted that the FemTech industry will reach 50 billion USD by 2025. The sector is full of potential for young startups and investors. However, investments and financing are still lacking.
Most venture capitalists and other investors are predominantly men. Men are not as fast to invest in women's health for a simple reason - the lack of understanding. It makes sense that women would be the major investors in the sector because they know the problems these companies try to solve, and they themselves look for solutions.
With more women entering tech positions and having funds to invest, the sector is expected to slowly but surely receive more financing.
Natural fertility management
Traditional hormonal birth control has improved women's lives significantly. It allowed millions of women to take control of their family planning and decide when and how many kids to have if any.
The common hormonal birth control has been around since the 60s. Since then, the medication has improved, but it still has myriads of side effects such as depression, low libido, nausea, weight gain, acne, headaches, and other symptoms associated with synthetic hormones.
FemTech startups combine wearable and period tracking technologies to bring natural and effective fertility management to women that had enough with inefficient hormonal contraception. Women want better solutions, and natural fertility awareness methods such as cycle, pulse, and basal body temperature tracking can bring effective and safe solutions.
Open discussion about women's health
Women tend to spend almost 30% more on medical care compared to men. They also have more influence over health care decision-making. But women's health concerns have been downplayed for ages.
Most clinical trials are still done exclusively on men, and only 4% of healthcare financing goes to women's care. Women's health care needs are more sophisticated and require more attention throughout life.
A significant part of this ignorance comes from stigmas and stereotypes attached to women's health. Doctors have ignored women's pain and needs for ages, believing that women are too emotional to decide for themselves or that they are just making their conditions up. Therefore, even today, millions of women are misdiagnosed or ignored. They live in pain and take it as part of being a woman.
But the discussion about women's health and sexuality is evolving. More people and the medical community address the injustice done to half of the population. While the stigma is still alive, more women dare to question if they are getting the best service they can and advocate for their health.
Shift to general health
Women are twice as likely to get dementia in old age compared to men. They are also more likely to get Alzheimer's disease. Women are also more often misdiagnosed for chronic pain. That leads FemTech innovators to switch focus from reproductive and sexual health to other medical concerns that tend to affect women to a greater extent.
FemTech is also making space for people that don't have female biology—creating solutions and sharing information for the trans community.
FemTech industry, although young, has a lot of potential to make a significant shift in the healthcare sector. From new technological developments to the discussion about women's medical concerns and biology is changing the way we see ourselves and the attention we receive. With many talented people entering FemTech and joining the discussion, the sector will thrive and bring the needed solutions to women's health.