Ladies—wish you could buy eco-friendly, washable undies that hold the equivalent of four regular tampons or secretly pump breastmilk with a device that fits inside your bra?
Thanks to femtech, these products are a reality. Femtech refers to using technological innovation to develop apps, products, and services specifically to support women’s health and wellness. If you haven’t yet explored femtech, you might be surprised by the many ways it could help make life a little easier.
Menstrual tracking apps make it simple for women to log their periods. Some apps also track period pain and heaviness of flow.
Notably, menstrual pain affects at least half of reproductive-age women. Femtech innovators are taking a new look at this. For example, you can now buy wearable devices that use small electrical pulses to block menstrual pain signals.
Gynecological exams can provoke anxiety and physical discomfort. One femtech company is working on a speculum covered with silicone and redesigned for a better experience during vaginal exams.
Fertility tracking apps are another area of interest in reproductive health. Women may use the apps as either digital birth control or to help them get pregnant. But do your research first. Apps that base fertility predictions primarily on your cycle length aren’t very accurate. On the other hand, menstrual tracking apps that also require users to collect data daily on both their cervical fluid and first morning body temperature are much more likely to accurately predict fertile times.
Pregnancy and post-pregnancy
Attention is also turning to improving childbirth. One company is testing a device to pre-stretch the vaginal tissues and pelvic floor muscles before a woman gives birth to help avoid damage such as tearing.
In addition, employers are working to make life easier for breastfeeding women, with breast milk delivery service for when a woman is travelling for work.
Menopause and midlife
Breast health becomes top of mind as women age. One femtech company has developed a saliva-based test for breast cancer detection, which is currently under clinical testing.
Another company has developed a hand-held, radiation-free device for early breast cancer detection by health care professionals.
Femtech companies are also looking at how to ease the challenges of menopause. An attractive cooling bracelet to detect and fend off hot flashes is in development.
Supporting older women
Some challenges that affect aging women, including urinary incontinence, are often overlooked and undertreated.
At-home electrical stimulation devices that help retrain pelvic floor muscles to reduce urinary urgency and leaks are now available.
Fired up for femtech?
If you find a femtech company or product that interests you, sign up for updates on products currently in development.
Some companies offer opportunities to participate in clinical trials that test the products. You may also be able to help by completing surveys to guide product development.
For femtech products already available, check with your health care practitioner and consider trying them.
Written by Marsha McCulloch, MS, RD