Femtech: Women’s Health in Focus

Woman in a laboratory

Making medical care more equitable and cultivating awareness of female self-determination: FemTech adds a new and important category to the healthcare sector.

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The issue at stake is nothing less than more gender-sensitive clinical research. Female health technology – or FemTech for short – reflects the desire of many researchers and manufacturers to cultivate a new awareness around women’s health, from diagnostics to medication to therapeutic care.

The needs of biological women are different to those of men. It has long been known that pharmacokinetics – the way in which drugs and the human body interact – differs between the genders and should therefore influence the administration of medicines to the individual. However, this information somehow never made it onto the package inserts. The result? Substantial overdosage that has often damaged the health or even threatened the life of women.

Gender data gap in studies

Studies* reveal all kinds of gaps in both research and medical care. What is known as the gender data gap derives from the fact that, for many years, women of childbearing age were ignored for the purposes of medical studies due to their hormonal fluctuations. In the USA, they were indeed systematically excluded until 1993. Even today, only 19 percent of respondents in clinical trials are women.

Medicine bottles in pharmaceutical factory

Change of paradigms in the healthcare sector

One objective of the FemTech movement is to include women in clinical studies in line with the proportion of women affected by individual diseases, and so to find solutions for female-specific conditions. The focus is therefore on issues such as pregnancy, menstruation, pelvic and sexual health, fertility, mental health and menopause, as well as on health conditions – such as osteoporosis and cardiovascular diseases – that affect women disproportionately.

Concrete applications rolling up the market

US company Jessie Health provides virtual healthcare services that match women to the right medical specialists. Smart bracelets that track hot flushes, apps that remind you to take your contraceptive pill, professional preterm birth scanning, smart tampons that could provide information about health issues and could in future help diagnose cervical cancer: These are just a few examples from this booming start-up industry.

Companies in this space are driving the development of technology-assisted programs that explicitly home in on female healthcare needs. It is therefore no surprise to see start-up funding increasing constantly. Investments of between three and nine billion US dollars are projected through 2030 – hard evidence that FemTech is a market with huge upside potential. While it is still too early to say anything definite about how far FemTech will change the healthcare industry, the existence of deficits in medical care for various female conditions is uncontested – as is the fact that large swathes of society are beginning to change the way they think about this issue.

Brunel’s contribution to FemTech

Brunel supports this values-based journey toward greater gender equality in medicine. As things stand, women are still underrepresented not only in the healthcare sector, but also in research and in the tech industry. Careers in life sciences present a broad spectrum of opportunities for professional development and are our contribution to this exciting revolution.

*Global Gender Gap Report 2022