Introduction to Femtech

It’s time to talk about femtech: the rapidly growing industry providing digital healthcare for women. In this blog we give you a brief overview of femtech including its potential applications, the major challenges the industry is facing, and our hopes for the future.

So what is femtech?

The term ‘femtech’, short for female technology, was originally coined in 2016 by Ida Tin1 (co-founder and CEO of menstrual cycle tracking app Clue) and refers to software, diagnostic equipment and products that use technology to improve the health and lives of women.

As we have spoken about in previous blogs, there are a lot of areas in women’s health that require improvement, such as people feeling dismissed by their GPs when explaining their symptoms,2–4 or the fact that there are certain conditions which are extremely prevalent in the female population but remain underdiagnosed and poorly understood, like endometriosis.5,6 It is hoped that by taking an innovative approach to women’s health, the femtech industry will provide solutions to some of these issues.

Why is the industry proving to be so successful?

While the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital practices across many areas of healthcare (it is estimated that digital adoption for both consumers and businesses moved forward by 5-years in the space of eight weeks7), the femtech industry was already beginning to take off before this industry shake-up.8 Within the past 5 years, femtech has seen a boom in both revenue and popularity.9 While initially focussing on fertility and period tracking, it is now expanding to cover everything from pelvic floor health to improving diagnostic rates of certain cancers.

So why is femtech proving to be such a hit? Is it down to the ethos of addressing long-neglected areas of healthcare and providing the services that women have been requesting for years? Or could it be that by giving the industry a name, it’s made products addressing the more ‘taboo’ women’s health issues more appealing to investors and highlighted a new market niche?10 Whatever the answer, we believe that female technology is going to be a mainstay in women’s health going forward.

Who is femtech for?

The target audience of these technologies has also broadened over time. Although the majority of femtech falls under the direct-to-consumer category (with products such as smartphone apps and devices including everything from newly designed breast pumps to wearable fertility trackers), there are also companies that create products for HCPs (like updated diagnostic tools or apps to support HCPs on particular women’s health topics).

As we discussed in our previous blog, ‘Marketing healthcare and lifestyle to millennials’, people between the ages of 24–40 have a particularly strong demand for convenient, digital solutions. In fact 36% of all online purchases come from the millennial generation.11 However, the older generations Gen X and Baby Boomers, along with the younger Gen Z are also embracing digital.12

As a result, this digital-focussed industry follows the trend by predominantly creating products for women in their reproductive years. There is a vast array of products focussed on cycle tracking, pregnancy planning and the early years of motherhood. As the industry expands, we are also seeing more products available for the older age groups who still have a strong digital capability: for example apps that provide advice on going through menopause.13

Ultimately, the major benefits of femtech include allowing these women to gain a greater level of understanding and control over their own health along with widening access and knowledge to the less well-understood women’s health topics, all in an innovative and digitally convenient way.

introduction to femtech

The Main Challenges

As the femtech industry is rapidly gaining momentum, there are some obvious challenges and concerns that need to be addressed:


While predictions for investment in femtech are good,14 and there have been a series of high-profile funding wins for femtech companies over the last year,15 there are still hurdles to overcome. The most obvious being that while the vast majority of femtech companies are pioneered by women, female-led start-ups only make up a small fraction of investments – accounting for less than 3% of venture capital funding in 2020.16

Could the involvement of more high-profile influencers and celebrities be a way to garner more attention from both investors and the general public? The Jennis app, founded and fronted by Dame Jessica Ennis Hill is a perfect example, having recently received €1.17 million in pre-seed funding.17

Within the UK at least, we are increasingly seeing more and more women in the public eye open up about their experiences with women’s health: including television presenter Naga Munchetty discussing her negative experience with getting a contraceptive coil fitted18; and more recently radio presenter Jo Whiley confessing how her experience of menopause negatively impacted her work life.18

Quality control and regulation

With femtech products increasingly bridging the gap between wellbeing and medical devices, regulation is proving to be a complex topic along with creating confusion for the consumer.20 For example, period trackers use a variety of metrics and inputs to influence their predictions – how does the consumer know which product is more accurate?

Birth control apps in particular have been facing backlash when it comes to their claims. Natural Cycles have already experienced complaints from several regulatory bodies for the efficacy claims made in their adverts.21 While the app is approved for sale in the UK and can be advertised to the public, NICE still argues that there is not yet sufficient evidence for the app to be recommended as an approved form of contraception by the NHS.22 So it’s important that as the industry grows, the regulations catch up.


While the vast amount of data collected through these apps and products has the potential to narrow the gender health gap, it’s is critical that the uses of this data are securely managed. Cycle tracking app Flo has already come under scrutiny for allegedly disclosing sensitive health information – including pregnancies within its users – to third party companies.23 In order to maintain the confidence of the women who use them, this is another area in which femtech companies will need to be careful, especially if the data is ever to be used for future research purposes.


Despite the femtech industry broadening its products and targets, it is still predominantly focussed on women in their reproductive years or going through menopause, leaving unmet health needs for women outside of this age range.24 Will we see femtech branch out even further to fill this gap?

If this is to be the case, a key consideration will be that while the primary audience for femtech right now is of an age more likely to engage with technology such as smartphones, older audiences have lower levels of digital confidence and are less likely to have access to the relevant devices,25 potentially excluding these adults further from an increasingly digital society and creating further challenges for the industry to address.

Introduction to femtech

Looking to the future

While femtech is taking a refreshing approach to healthcare by putting women front and centre, it is still an industry in it’s infancy that requires a lot of work. We personally are interested to see where the future of femtech lies, and what other neglected areas of healthcare could benefit from the increasing prevalence of digital solutions.

For more content on women’s health, digital healthcare, marketing best practice and much more, keep an eye on our blog.

  1. An Interview with Clue CEO, Ida Tin. FemTech Live. Resource. Published February 11, 2021. Accessed November 3, 2021.
  2. Gaslighting in women’s health: when doctors dismiss symptoms. Northwell Health. Resource. Accessed October 27, 2021.
  3. Zhang L, Losin EAR, Ashar YK, Koban L, Wager TD. Gender biases in estimation of others’ pain. J Pain. 2021;22(9):1048-1059. Resource. Accessed November 9, 2021.
  4. Marsh S. ‘I was told to live with it’: women tell of doctors dismissing their pain. The Guardian. Resource. Published April 16, 2021. Accessed October 27, 2021.
  5. Endometriosis. World Health Organisation. Resource. Published March 31, 2021. Accessed November 3, 2021.
  6. All Party Parliamentary Group on Endometriosis. Endometriosis in the UK: time for change. October 2020. Resource. Accessed November 9, 2021.
  7. Baig A, Hall B, Jenkins P, Lamarre E, McCarthy B. Digital adoption through COVID-19 and beyond . McKinsey Digital. Resource. Published May 14, 2020. Accessed November 5, 2021.
  8. Clark K. Femtech’s billion-dollar year. TechCrunch. Resource. Published April 3, 2019. Accessed November 5, 2021.
  9. Femtech market share 2021: growth opportunities, top key players, upcoming trends, competitive landscape, business strategy and forecast to 2026. MarketWatch. Resource. Published October 19, 2021. Accessed November 3, 2021.
  10. Dodgson L. Why founder of Clue Ida Tin coined the term “FemTech.” Insider. Resource. Published June 5, 2020. Accessed November 3, 2021.
  11. Ross L. Millennial online shopping habits – statistics and trends. invesp. Resource. Published February 12, 2021. Accessed November 5, 2021.
  12. Vogels EA. Millennials stand out for their technology use. Pew Research Center. Resource. Published September 9, 2019. Accessed November 5, 2021.
  13. Das R. Menopause unveils itself as the next big opportunity in Femtech. Forbes. Resource. Published July 24, 2019. Accessed November 5, 2021.
  14. Ugalmugle S, et al. Femtech market size 2021-2027.; 2021. Global Market Insights. Resource. Accessed November 4, 2021.
  15. Mathur P. Flo raises millions as femtech frenzy continues. PitchBook. Resource. Published September 9, 2021. Accessed November 4, 2021.
  16. Teare G. Global VC funding to female founders dropped dramatically this year. Crunchbase News. Resource. Published December 21, 2020. Accessed November 4, 2021.
  17. Jennis raises a £1m pre-seed round for its wellness app, that helps women map their workouts to their cycle. FemTech Insider. Resource. Published October 4, 2021. Accessed November 4, 2021.
  18. Munchetty N. Coil fitting agony: “My screams were so loud” . BBC News. Resource. Published June 21, 2021. Accessed November 4, 2021.
  19. Jo Whiley was struggling with menopause during Radio 2 show backlash . BBC News. Resource. Published November 2, 2021. Accessed November 4, 2021.
  20. McDevitt A. ‘Femtech’ wanders into uncharted regulatory territory. Compliance Week. Resource. Published November 20, 2019. Accessed November 4, 2021.
  21. Crouch H. Natural Cycles Facebook ad banned by Advertising Standards Agency. Digital Health. Resource. Published September 10, 2018. Accessed November 4, 2021.
  22. Wilkinson E. NICE: More evidence needed before NHS can adopt use of contraception app. Pulse Today. Resource. Published February 3, 2021. Accessed November 4, 2021.
  23. Lomas N. Flo gets FTC slap for sharing user data when it promised privacy. TechCrunch. Resource. Published January 12, 2021. Accessed November 4, 2021.
  24. Olsen E. Why femtech needs to move past reproductive healthcare. MobiHealthNews. Resource. Published August 12, 2021. Accessed November 4, 2021.
  25. Nearly two million over-75s in England are still digitally excluded in a COVID-19 world. Age UK. Resource. Published March 5, 2021. Accessed November 4, 2021.

Posted by Rebecca Dargue
Health Science Content Writer

Share this blog