February 6, 2024 ITERATE

The Future of FemTech and Why Women’s Health is Not a Niche

The Future of FemTech and Why Women’s Health is Not a Niche


The most recent thought to inspire our ITERATE blog series is the opportunity to shine a spotlight on femtech: exploring its origin, why the sector matters to all and what we can do to fuel its growth. Holly shared her curiosity in this area…

The fact that the very term femtech itself was only conceived of a mere five years ago speaks volumes, both about the incredible work done by the earliest femtech startups and about the attention that this sector is long overdue.

It’s often said that naming something gives it greater power. By attaching a name to something you are legitimising its existence and providing more people with a language or vocabulary to talk about it. This is vital because by coining the term femtech in 2016, Ida Tin – co-founder and chairwoman of the Berlin-based fertility tracker app, Clue – did just that. Tin describes femtech as a business category, distinguished from femcare through the use of technology:

“What emerges is a new and huge category addressing female health needs through technology: femtech. When looking at companies that deliver software, diagnostics, services and products targeting women’s health needs, I see a fluffiness and confusion of terms that struggles to describe the individual product – and even more so shows an obvious lack of a collective description of this emerging mega category”  – Ida Tin, in “The rise of a new category: Femtech”

That we now have a name for this category, femtech, has been a significant milestone and an ever-expanding list of startups are declaring their focus on femtech. Nevertheless, given its very short history there are many who still do not fully understand what femtech covers. Initially, many (though not all) femtech startups have concentrated on using technology to deliver more effective and thoughtful solutions to women’s health issues relating to fertility, the menstrual cycle, and female reproductive health. The attention on this aspect of women’s health has – and continues to have – a transformative impact by destigmatising these subjects which in many spaces remain taboo. Evolving out of this nonetheless, many entrepreneurs are working to ensure that as the femtech market matures, its borders are not narrowed into a niche, rightly highlighting that women’s health is about more than just fertility. Another facet of this is ensuring that femtech serves the needs of all women, not only those of a reproductive age.

In a recent study, Frost & Sullivan reported that the global femtech market is estimated to hit $1.15 billion by 2025. Within the expansion of this market, the issues that will be addressed will stretch well beyond fertility, focussing on the earlier diagnosis of cancers and other diseases as well as the uneven impact of Covid-19 on women’s health. A somewhat obvious yet previously unconsidered realisation has been gaining traction, that women’s bodies differ to men and that many traditions of symptom detection and diagnosis have failed to understand and explore this difference. It was this that inspired the design team here to choose the misdiagnosis of heart disease in women as our issue to address through our recent birthday design sprint. Our purpose was to appreciate and help raise awareness of the breadth of what femtech is and the fact that product design for women’s health is not limited to apps or trackers (as beneficial as these products and services can be).

When coining the phrase back in 2016, Tin predicted that in the near future venture finance firms would start to cite their interest in or passion for femtech as a sector in the same way they currently revere the medtech or fintech categories. Recently, femtech has been gaining more attention from investors but still, to many, femtech is understood as referring to startups or businesses that are female-founded. While a large number of femtech startups have been pioneered by women, this is not the core of what femtech is. In the US we are excitingly seeing new femtech-focussed firms growing, and as the category femtech continues to gain recognition the opportunities will continue to bloom.


Gethin Roberts


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