Blog / Femtech: Market Overview, Key Challenges and Perspectives

Femtech: Why it's the Future of Global Healthcare

April 20, 2023 → 12 min read
FemTech is considered a thriving new market that can improve women's health outcomes and open new opportunities for companies within the ecosystem. However, the women's health industry has often experienced a lack of funding and faces other hurdles before it can take off.

In this article, we focus specifically on the FemTech industry, its trends, and business challenges for 2023-2024 using data from our interviews with industry players.

Find out the insights our respondents shared with us based on their entrepreneurial journeys.

FemTech Market within HealthTech Ecosystem: Overview

FemTech encompasses tech solutions that address women's health conditions and needs, including fertility, mental health, pelvic and sexual health, pregnancy, childcare, menstruation, menopause, contraception, and other general conditions. It refers to a range of products and services including applications, medical devices, wearables, diagnostic tools, and more.
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The term "FemTech" was introduced in 2016 by Ida Tin, the founder of a period-tracking app currently used by millions of women worldwide. Tin is among those who pioneered the concept of FemTech as an autonomous business space and brought together everything related to women's health under one umbrella term.

Since Ida Tin coined the term, FemTech has experienced rapid growth and has already proven itself as a distinct business space.

Growing awareness of the unmet women's health needs drives technological advancements within the industry. The global FemTech market shows exponential growth, projected to reach $103 billion by 2030 from $51 billion in 2021, according to Statista.
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However, entering this unsaturated market may seem both simple and complicated at the same time.
Let's take a look at some of the challenges that a startup journey for a women's health product might involve.

The Biggest Challenges FemTech Startups Experience

Freshcode has been thoroughly analyzing healthcare trends and challenges, specifically focusing on the FemTech industry. We have decided to conduct a deeper investigation of this area by researching the pain points of both businesses and clients directly through a series of interviews with women's health entrepreneurs.

Let's discover these first-hand insights, existing statistics, and industry analytics about the most painful issues experienced by the HealthTech market.
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Lack of investments

Historically, the women's health tech industry has been overlooked and underfunded by investors. FemTech startups are still viewed as a niche investment opportunity and funding in this sector has a lot of catching up to do when compared to other healthcare fields.
When you look, for instance, at the issue of maternal healthcare crises, there is a huge problem, at least in the US, where this niche has experienced relatively poor investment compared to other sectors in the health tech industry.
L. Т.
VP at medical consultation platform
There has been a recent surge of interest and investment in the FemTech industry, particularly in fertility, maternal health, and sexual wellness fields. As an example, Progyny, a fertility benefits management company, went public in 2019 with a valuation of over $1 billion. By 2022, its market capitalization had grown to $4 billion. Another example is Cayaba Care, a digital platform that provides affordable at-home care for soon-to-be moms, that raised $12M in Series A funding in 2022.

However, despite the recent surge of interest and investment, overall funding for FemTech still lags behind other healthcare sectors. This can make it challenging for startups to gain traction and scale up. Implementing digital solutions in healthcare requires significant resources, which can slow down progress.
Everything is hard to do for free or low-cost, cause you have to support staff, either medical or tech, nurses, doctors, and everyone who's included in practical, impersonal, or virtual care. If it's a virtual practice, you need software that is really expensive, also legal and consulting costs.
Kerry C.
Director of Clinic Success

Insufficient R&D funding

Being relatively young, the FemTech industry remains under-researched. Only 4% of healthcare research and development funding is allocated to issues that directly affect women's health and wellness.

The lack of representation in clinical trials has a negative impact on the understanding of female physiology, health conditions, drug efficacy, and the side-effects. FemTech companies face challenges regarding incomplete data on women's health and struggle to create effective products.

Therefore, it is not surprising that 84% of women feel unheard in healthcare settings, with their pain often being dismissed and their conditions often misdiagnosed.
Women face numerous health issues, they have a lot of things to think about. And finding a trusted women's health provider is really hard, especially if you work remotely.
Kerry C.
Director of Clinic Success
Given these challenges, the primary task is to bring together the entire ecosystem, including practicing clinicians and healthcare professionals, to support FemTech founders in developing valuable products and great user experiences. The industry needs further development to access more resourceful data, which is critical for any startup's innovative tech product and its customers.

Lack of public support

The other downside is that FemTech doesn't get enough attention from society to address highly relevant issues. This is due to a number of reasons, including:

  • historical lack of awareness
  • cultural taboos
  • systemic gender biases in medical education and training
  • lack of proactive solution

Many female-specific topics, such as postnatal depression, were avoided to be openly discussed quite recently. Fortunately, today the situation is different and despite the described challenges, there are various innovations seeking to redress the prenatal (before birth) and postpartum (after birth) needs.
Now, there are many tech solutions developed to solve pregnancy issues and complications, as well as different care situations that happen to women.
L. Т.
VP at medical consultation service
The wave of female empowerment is actively breaking taboos and misconceptions surrounding women's health. Such topics receive significant attention mostly through social media and first-hand storytelling.

However, not enough has been done yet to debunk myths and the lack of diverse representation of women's health challenges hinders the success of the industry development.
Many venture capitalists in the industry are men who have no understanding of women's issues and health conditions. When a woman tells them something like, 'Hey, we have a product' and displays it, they don't care and have no interest in exploring the problem that this product can solve or how it can help women.
Anne-Marie Elias
Chief Disrupter

8 Advancements that Can Empower FemTech

The good news: there is growing recognition of the importance of the FemTech industry and its potential to support the diversity of women's experiences.

Specialists note that the "male-dominated VC industry is waking up" as more entrepreneurs join FemTech. Emphasis on addressing health inequities and tackling stigmatized conditions is expected to boost the industry in the coming years.

Here are eight other factors that can bring FemTech to a new level.
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  • Value-based care
    This strategy can deliver breakthrough growth for FemTech companies by prioritizing a patient-centric approach that places convenience and accessibility at the forefront of the customer journey.

    Combining high-tech solutions with high-touch support, a value-based care model helps to achieve better outcomes and meet user needs. It also provides significant financial benefits for patients, as it can reduce the cost of care and prevent unnecessary treatments and hospitalizations.

    The uneven access to health services drives life expectancy gaps. To address this issue, FemTech providers must consider the unique needs and preferences of the patients. It is crucial to recognize the diversity of women's experiences and provide culturally competent care to meet the specific needs of different populations.
Longevity in Australia is tiny. And then if you look at the US, which has a multi-trillion dollar market to save the world with longevity tech… It's not when people are in age-care, but more and more people want to age home. As technology becomes more dynamic, intelligent houses let people live at home longer.
Anne-Marie Elias
Chief Disrupter
  • Education and awareness
    McKinsey analyzed 700+ FemTech companies and found that public awareness is surging as the industry's impact grows across more categories. With more startups entering the market and modernizing services, more opportunities are emerging to support this rising trend and make FemTech products available to women worldwide.

    VCs need to understand the industry's pain points in order to make informed investments, just as audiences need to understand FemTech solutions to have reliable information about new services. For example, Helaina, a startup that provides milk alternatives and provide breastfeeding support for parents, gained more attention in 2022 when a shortage of baby formula was making headlines in the US. However, its founder noted that initially some VCs did not see the value in this product.

Freshcode Tip
Lift your healthcare project up by spreading more awareness about what it is about and what are its benefits with partnerships and workshops.

  • Sustainability
    Over the past decade, various industries have witnessed a significant increase in the adoption of sustainable practices. As the world continues to make strides toward eradicating ecological issues, the FemTech sector has emerged as a significant player.

    One example is the emergence of eco-friendly and sustainable period products. The average woman uses around 11,000 disposable feminine hygiene products throughout her lifetime. These products can take up to 800 years to biodegrade and have substantial negative environmental impacts.

    Therefore, the development of sustainable natural and bioengineered synthetic textiles, up-cycling programs, and increasing awareness are on the agenda. For, example in 2022, the Australian company Modibodi released its first line of biodegradable period and pee-proof underwear.

    People will continue to seek products and services that are environmentally credible, and future-oriented companies will offer their products and services that meet this demand.
  • Experienced Product Team
    Women's health is a complex and sensitive topic that requires a team of professionals with the right knowledge and expertise to create effective and safe solutions.

    An experienced product team has a deep understanding of industry issues and can come up with innovative solutions to address them. They have a clear vision of your ideal customer profile and product-market fit. Sharing a common vision for the product and being pointed towards the same goal are vital factors that contribute to success. That's why meticulous product design with qualitative research, as well as transparent communication with stakeholders, matters a lot.
When hiring specialists for your project, the requirements are roughly the same: meeting face-to-face, understanding who they are, and making expectations clear upfront. The team has to understand your concrete goals and to be accountable.
Kerry C.
Director of Clinic Success
  • Specialists working on the FemTech project also need to have a strong understanding of the regulatory landscape surrounding women's health products, ensuring that products are safe and compliant with regulations.

Freshcode Tip
One common recommendation is to attract qualified women to help develop a product. This gives FemTech businesses more credibility. The industry is not only driven by established healthcare giants, but also by independent, female-led researchers and entrepreneurs seeking solutions to their own experienced health issues.

  • Data Privacy
    FemTech founders know for sure that compliant development with extra attention to sensitive data is the first and foremost rule of healthcare software development.

    Mobile health applications process personal data, and some trackers gather information about an individual's mental health, sexual behavior, or intimate bodily functions. So, while solving crucial problems for women's health, user privacy and protecting sensitive information and are top priorities.
Get Freshcode Free Guide "Keep both calm and PHI"
  • Women's health startups have to ensure HIPAA and GDPR-compliant data processing. The second thing is to stay transparent with the user about what information the system gathers, how it uses it, and how it protects it.
  • Passion for Solving Problems
    As we have already mentioned, the industry faces many challenges, including the stigma surrounding women's health issues, inadequate access to healthcare, and a lack of research and development in certain areas. Despite these challenges, developing women's health products can significantly improve the quality of life for billions of people.
My mission is to provide the best technical implementation of ideas and innovations in women's health industry. Demand exceeds supply. Femtech projects are needed; especially now, when the user's location does not matter.

I rely on my team for their expertise in healthcare software development across different domains, from telemedicine to bioinformatics. People who are passionate about what they do are great teammates.

Anastasia Kovtun
Healthcare IT Solution Consultant at Freshcode
  • The best FemTech companies today are those that are passionate about tackling them head-on and finding innovative solutions to improve outcomes. Investors, industry specialists, and tech teams who realized the potential of Femtech evolving healthcare landscape have to focus on the root cause of health challenges, not just put bandaids on things.
  • Key Differentiator
    With the growing competition in the market, it is crucial for FemTech companies to identify their uniqueness to stand out from the rest. One way to achieve this is by creating a memorable diversifier that sets your FemTech product apart from the competition and makes it more valuable to users.

    A memorable diversifier can make your product more appealing to potential customers and increase brand loyalty. Study all of the existing products from competitors, and make sure you are offering something that is more efficient or technologically advanced. Other strategies include providing a user-friendly product and better customer experiences.

Freshcode Tip
If it is a menstrual tracking app, a memorable diversifier could be a personalized health plan that recommends specific exercises and nutrition based on the user's menstrual cycle. If the product offers a community or support group feature, where women can connect with others who are going through similar experiences and find friends and support, its first task is to create a sense of belonging. This can be amplified with the option to write blogs and by implementing the best features of messaging and social media applications.

Don't miss our article about Top 10 Healthcare Startups

  • Customer Responsiveness
    FemTech products are becoming increasingly popular as more and more women recognize the value of technology in managing their health and wellness. The next decade will see the rise of an increasingly data-savvy consumer who wants to use information and technology consciously and be more involved in decision-making.

    Therefore, FemTech entrepreneurs have to

    1. Provide transparency and accountability
    2. Listen to positive and negative feedback
    3. Use data analytics for personalized experiences

    Healthcare founders often fail to recognize the flaws in their own products. This is a common pitfall they should avoid. When thoroughly developing a product or boosting marketing it is pretty easy to overlook problems and faults that are clear to someone not directly involved with the product. That's why it is important to brainstorm with your team, discuss strategies and gather feedback from your users.

FemTech Trends to Watch in 2023

In 2023 FemTech is actively driving technology-enabled innovations and bringing value and significant practical results, including but not limited to the achievements mentioned in the McKinsey article:
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Insufficient R&D funding
Whether it's virtual clinics such as Midi Health or Tia, brick-and-mortar clinics such as Kindbody, or direct-to-consumer delivery services such as Natalist or The Pill Club, all consumer-centric services should enable women to access care in a more convenient way.
Facilitating self-care practices
Wearable devices, such as health trackers and remote patient monitoring devices offered by companies like INNOVO or Bloomlife, as well as at-home diagnostics like those provided by Modern Fertility, are examples of new solutions that enable women to practice self-care with clinically-proven tools and take greater charge of their health.
Advancing diagnostic capabilities
The rapid introduction of new technologies, including bioinformatics, business intelligence software, and AI-guided decision support tools, is transforming the healthcare industry and providing numerous benefits, such as better access to data, increased capacity, reduced costs, and improved access to health treatments.

Clinical diagnostics companies, such as Sera Prognostics or DotLab, are the ones who are actively harnessing the power of technology to address unmet medical needs.
Reducing stigma
Taboos and stigmas are one of the main reasons why women hesitate to seek help. They can often reinforce beliefs that debilitating symptoms are 'normal' or something that must be endured. Such 'prohibited topics' also hinder female founders from freely discussing their agenda.

Despite these issues, FemTech companies are bringing historically stigmatized topics such as menstrual health (Thinx period underwear), sexual wellness (Rosy), or menopause (Elektra Health) to the forefront of today's healthcare.
Providing culturally sensitive care
Delivering culturally safe and sensitive care is a crucial mission of patient-centered care. It is care that meets the social and cultural needs of diverse patient populations. For example, such tailored solutions are emerging for Black women and women of color (Health in Her HUE) and women in low- and middle-income countries (Kasha).

Final thoughts

Women's health issues have been overlooked for years, but today there are various innovations seeking to address this gap. In the coming years, this sector is expected to continue thriving.

The development of effective, sustainable, and valuable women's health solutions will bring positive change to the industry through research, collaboration, knowledge-sharing, and innovation. This applies to all specialists involved in developing FemTech products and services.

Women are not just consumers but the top decision-makers for themselves and often for their families. Improving women's health outcomes will lead to better outcomes for society.

Therefore, do your best to develop great products, and don't hesitate to ask questions or seek consultations with subject-matter experts.
Kyrylo Stepaniuk
HealthTech Research Manager at Freshcode
Successfully starting as a business development manager in 2018, Kyrylo has become a HealthTech research specialist working on innovative products developed by the company.

He conducts customer development interviews and market research, providing the company with relevant data and blog articles about healthcare.

Kyrylo stays up-to-date on the latest industry developments and has a deep understanding of the regulatory landscape. He has worked closely with telemedicine, bioinformatics, and behavioral health software products developed by Freshcode.

Outside of work, Kyrylo is an avid cat lover, traveler, and gourmet.

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