Did you know—as much as 90% of women who menstruate have period pain? Known as dysmenorrhea, the pain begins in the pelvis and gradually radiates to the lower back and thigh region.
Menstruation is still considered a taboo and this subject has created an increasing level of ignorance along with dangerous and ludicrous misconceptions, harming those who need guidance or medical assistance.
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Growing up an avid traveller, Ida Tin noticed that this “issue” was global. With an aim to raise a progressive voice for female health, she founded an innovative period tracking app, Clue, and coined the term “FemTech” to raise awareness and encourage companies that are solely for women. This was in 2016.
Fast forward to where we are today. FemTech is a flourishing industry, expected to reach USD 71,000 million by 2026. With innovative technologies targeting menstruation issues, pelvic health, fertility and birth control, sexual wellness, chronic conditions and general healthcare, the market is poised to grow at a healthy rate of 17% from 2020 to 2026.
“In an industry that often leaves women feeling ignored, FemTech puts women at the forefront. For years, there have been misconceptions and disparities in women’s health and wellness. Many clinical trials were male-dominated, thus leading to very little information on women’s healthcare. But with FemTech focused solely on women, it helps address all these issues from menstruation to menopause and pregnancy through education and personalised services/products. It is the key to closing the gender disparity in the healthcare industry in terms of education and products offered,” said Neha Mehta, Founder & CEO, FemTech Partners.
FemTech’s purview in “Bharat”
Interestingly or unfortunately, though India accounts for 17.7% of the total world population, of which nearly half are women, FemTech as a concept is, at best, described as nascent. Persisting issues such as rural/urban disparities, education and decision-making, and gender equality have a massive role in hurdling FemTech growth. And from a business perspective, there are chances of investors describing this market as a “niche” where scalability becomes a problem. Also, they understand the amount of work that goes into changing consumer behaviour and then selling them on a product.
According to Mehta, “There are less than 50 FemTech startups in Southeast Asia, with more than half of them in Singapore. The imbalanced development landscape of FemTech in India has highlighted opportunities together with challenges for FemTech entrepreneurs to close the gaps and help the many underserved women at the bottom of the economic pyramid.”
This opens big opportunities for FemTech entrepreneurs, especially in FinTech, mobile applications, healthcare, medicine, personal care and well-being industries. As things stand, India is home to many such FemTech brands thriving beyond expectation despite the shortcomings.
Analytics India Magazine presents the most promising FemTech companies in India for 2022.
Founded in 2018, Carmesi offers the first homegrown range of premium, all-natural and bio-degradable hygiene products for women. Their products include cramp-relief heat patches, tampons, sanitary pads and menstrual cups that are safe and sustainable. Their innovative sanitary pads are developed by combining biodegradable bamboo fibre and corn starch and come with a resealable disposal bag made of raw kraft paper.
CareMother by CareNX Innovations aims to create a digital health innovation ecosystem for healthcare providers and pregnant women. This FemTech company primarily offers four products:
· Fetosense: a wireless fetal heart monitor (NST/CTG) device.
· BabyBeat: a self fetal heart monitoring solution for home monitoring.
· AnandiMaa: a comprehensive antenatal care platform for last-mile care delivery and high-risk pregnancy management.
· CareMother Pregnancy Tracker and Growth Application
Developed by Aindra Systems, CervAstra is an AI-powered point-of-care device for cancer screening. By combining state-of-the-art mechatronics, optics, deep learning, and cloud technologies, this end-to-end system automates the cancer screening workflow by analysing pap smear (cells from the cervix) samples to quickly identify abnormal cells and share the results with oncologists or physicians over the cloud.
Founded in 2015, Telangana-based Celes Care is a virtual health clinic for women. Their goal is to empower women with precision medicine alongside information and advice required to lead a better, healthier life while keeping quality, privacy and convenience at the centre.
Elda Health is a holistic, digital wellness platform offering mid-life and wellness solutions for women. Based on a “you-first” approach, the company delivers effective and timely mental, physical, social, medical interventions that deal with everything from menstruation to menopause. In mid-2021, they even raised a $1.5 million seed fund from Avaana Capital, Orios Ventures, and Ananth Narayanan Family Office.
Mind & Mom
As a deep-tech company, Mind & Mom leverages AI technologies to enhance the healthcare experience in the infertility and pregnancy space. They envision creating an AI-powered future that enables women and doctors to make data-driven decisions, ensuring positive health outcomes.
Niramai is a medical device company offering a software-based solution for the early detection of breast cancer. The portable cancer screening tool attempts to replace traditional self-examination methods by being completely automated, accurate, and low-cost. Using patented machine learning algorithms and a radiation-free, non-touch imaging method, the device helps physicians accurately detect breast cancer in a completely pain-free way.
Ovaika Health is a next-gen digital health platform that enables women to lead a healthy life, primarily through awareness. They also offer female health and hygiene products from a carefully curated list of brands that stand by their ethos. The company is currently working on launching a virtual clinic.
OoWomaniya.com by Impetus Wellness is a networking platform that connects women with doctors and counsellors to discuss health and emotional wellness concerns while ensuring safety and privacy. With a pan-Indian team of certified health experts, they also offer offline corporate on-site workshops, webinars and CSR projects to spread awareness on various women’s health issues such as women’s intimate hygiene, menstrual health, PCOS, parenting, nutrition, stress and anxiety management, POSH (Prevention of Sexual harassment), and much more.
Bengaluru-based PregBuddy offers personalised care to women from preconception to the early years of parenthood through health specialists and doctors. Backed by AI, PregBuddy also dubs as an enterprise SaaS platform offering care continuum options for hospitals and doctors. Their algorithm is regularly updated by new data coming from many data points that alert clinicians to mothers in need of emergency assistance.
SHEROES is a women-only social platform empowering users with a secure, trusted, compassionate, and constructive social networking ecosystem. The Babygogo and Naaree platforms are also part of the SHEROES network. SHEROES also conducts the annual #SHEROESSummit and #TheSHIFT Series, aiming to shift the gender narrative. SHEROES offers a variety of solutions to its enterprise customers, including brand solutions, SHE – a platform for preventing sexual harassment at work, and a managed remote solutions program.
Sirona is on a mission to solve intimate and menstrual hygiene issues for women. The award-winning brand offers an array of innovative products such as feminine pain relief patches, oxo-degradable disposal bags, and anti-chafing rash cream. In addition, they pioneered India’s first female urination device, PeeBuddy, that allows women to stand and pee. Good Glamm-backed Sirona also offers the PeeBuddy PregRX, a pregnancy test kit with HCG integrated FUD funnel. The company is now foraying into the female safety segment by investing in Impower, a leading provider of pepper sprays.
Smart Scope Cx by Periwinkle Technologies
Periwinkle Technologies is a growing MedTech startup providing smart software solutions for timely and better diagnostics and care. Their flagship hand-held imaging device, Smart Scope, combines a tablet-based telemedicine system with AI-enabled image assessment to classify anomalies in a bodily cavity, enabling healthcare providers to deliver quicker, more accurate test results.
As a full-stack reproductive health platform, Zealthy offers tailor-made solutions to aid couples during their infertility journey. This entails at-home infertility kits, fertility coaching, and guidance for procedures like IVF.
“The world is changing, and with social media, more women are speaking about their experiences and bodies, and topics that were once considered taboo are now being normalised. The current challenge lies in the lack of awareness of the term. Although many of the FemTech products are being used in urban areas, there must be awareness spread among the females in rural areas to increase participation. With more awareness, education and digital literacy, the FemTech industry could be prominent in helping young girls and women in overcoming their problems,” said Mehta.