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Femtech: The Revolution in Women’s Health

Published on 7 December 2023
María Franco
Written by

Maria Franco Hernandez

Femtech: The Revolution in Women’s Health

Today Femtech is completely transforming female health, not only by fostering the development of a wide range of products and services worldwide, but also by becoming a vehicle to raise awareness about the lack of representation that women had suffered in the healthcare field. Period tracking apps, fertility wearables, menopause guidance… the Femtech wave started a few years ago and hasn’t stopped growing since.

Nevertheless, in this dynamic landscape where innovation and inclusivity intersect, not all companies have managed to carve a niche and provide substantial value. Despite the introduction of new technologies and all the recently created companies covering untapped areas, many of the market leaders remain those that started offering female-oriented products before the Femtech term was even coined.

Femtech: A technological revolution for women’s health

Despite accounting for half of the world’s population, women remain significantly underrepresented in the healthcare industry. Conditions that primarily affect women have been overlooked, companies targeting female-specific needs represent a very small share of the global technology market, and topics such as menstruation or sexual life remain a social taboo. Recognizing this gender gap within the industry is what led to the creation and development of the Femtech (short for Female Technology) sector, which seeks to address unmet needs and raise awareness about these issues.

The start of the movement for increased representation of female health issues is not recent, there’s evidence that women have been advocating for this cause since at least the 1970s. It was around this time that some of the pioneering companies in the sector started introducing products. However, it wasn’t until the rise of the digital era, in the 2010s, that the Femtech movement started to gain momentum1. In 2013, two of the first period tracking apps, Glow and Clue, launched; and in 2016 one of Clue’s co-founders, Ida Tin, coined the term “Femtech” in one of her pitches to investors.

Nowadays Femtech is understood as the group of products and services that have been designed to support and address women’s specific health needs. These can be classified according to two different criteria, the product/service type or the subsector of the female health issues that they address2:

  • Femtech subsectors: fertility and reproductive health, maternity, menstruation, sexual health, menopause, pelvic health, general care
  • Product types: devices, consumer products, pharmaceuticals, software/apps, services
Femtech subsector

Long before the term “Femtech” was adopted and widely recognized, there were already companies quietly working to fill in the existing gaps in women’s healthcare. These early pioneers identified unaddressed needs relating to female health and worked to provide solutions that, although were not marketed as Femtech at the time, laid the foundation for the newer companies that entered the industry afterwards.

These initial businesses have played different roles in the Femtech industry. On one side, there are some internationally renowned health companies, such as Procter & Gamble (P&G) or Johnson & Johnson (J&J), that were not specialized in female products but did have some widely used ones in their portfolio; and on the other, there are companies that have been focusing exclusively on women-oriented solutions, such as it is the case of DivaCup or Medela. (Table 1) In all cases, these companies recognized that women's health went beyond routine medical care and set out to address crucial gaps. Clearblue, for instance, understood the significance of fertility tracking, providing women with tools to predict ovulation accurately, aiding in family planning. P&G ventured into menstrual hygiene, skincare, and personal care products, recognizing that women's health extended to various aspects of daily life. DivaCup revolutionized menstrual care with reusable, eco-friendly menstrual cups, anticipating the growing need for sustainable and convenient options. Medela, a leader in maternal health, empowered women in their breastfeeding journeys, acknowledging the importance of maternal well-being. The term Femtech had yet to be coined, but

their pioneering efforts represented a critical step in the recognition of women’s health as a distinct field in its own right.

Another common thread among these companies is that they directed their efforts towards some specific Femtech subsectors, namely menstruation, maternity and fertility. This emphasis on these specific areas can be attributed to the critical and prevalent nature of these aspects within women’s lives, since they affect a more significant portion of the female population than others such as menopause or pelvic health. Moreover, there was recognition that some of these issues, such as fertility and reproduction, are intertwined with men’s responsibilities, fostering a quicker development due to shared interest across genders and fewer social taboos (Table 2).

Although the Femtech industry has continued to expand since the release of these products, these companies and their early developments set the base for the further development of the sector and, in many cases, are still leading and shaping the industry as it is today.

During recent years, an increased awareness and attention to women’s health issues combined with a higher presence of women in both healthcare and venture capital, has led to a period of unprecedented growth in Femtech3.

Around the early 2010s, many Femtech-dedicated start-ups emerged; and in 2016, events such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of Ava, a fertility tracker wearable device in the US, or

the CE approval of Natural Cycles, a contraception and birth control app in Europe, opened the doors to the hundreds of female-oriented technologies that followed (Figure 1).

The number of companies in Femtech has been exponentially growing in the recent years, surpassing 1,200 in 20222, and this expansion has reflected a shift towards recognizing and addressing the wider array of women's health needs. For instance, Ava leverages wearable technology and data analytics to provide insights about women’s menstrual cycles, fertility, and overall health. Elvie, a developer of femicentric products, uses an innovative approach to sexual wellness aiming to destigmatize discussions around pelvic health. Maven, as virtual healthcare platform, offers accessible and personalized medical advice across a wide spectrum, including mental health and maternal health. Gennev is one of the first companies exclusively focused on providing services and resources for women’s well-being during and after menopause. Among the realm of emerging companies in the Femtech landscape, a few have managed to achieve a widespread influence and recognition, reaching millions worldwide (Table 3).

These recently established start-ups have ventured into previously untapped territories, making topics such as menopause, pelvic health or sexual health become focal points in their offerings: companies that existed prior to the 2012 Femtech boom, now represent only a 7%, 23% and 9% of the total companies playing in these areas respectively4. This diversification not only signifies a more comprehensive and inclusive Femtech movement but also plays a crucial role in breaking the social taboos that have long surrounded these subjects. These changes acknowledge that, while still being crucial areas, health and well-being transcend reproductive concerns and encompass various aspects and stages of a woman's life. (Table 4)

Moreover, a notable shift in the product types offered can be noticed, with the majority of new companies placing a strong focus on software, apps and online healthcare services. In fact, around 85% of the companies falling in these categories were founded after 20124. This move towards digital platforms has had a significant impact for the industry, allowing millions of women to have access to crucial information and support for their health conditions. Whether it's menstrual tracking apps or virtual maternity care platforms, the rise of digital solutions in Femtech has broken down geographical barriers and transformed the industry into a global, inclusive movement.

The Femtech industry’s landscape has experienced a notable transformation, with significant implications for both old and new players. Before the formal coining of the term “Femtech” in 2012, the market was characterized by a dominance of devices and pharmaceuticals above the other Femtech product types, representing 38% and 16% of the number of companies in the market, respectively4. However, after 2012, the market shifted and there was a redistribution of these product types, with consumer products and tech systems becoming the most prominent ones, accounting for 24% and 18% of the market respectively. In terms of number of companies, the growth is evident, as before 2013 there were around 200 companies that defined themselves as Femtech, but post 2012 there have been over 900 companies entering the field4.

Market analysis shows that while it is true that some companies founded after 2012 have succeeded in making a significant impact, many of the pioneering companies managed to maintain a significant market share across their respective fields. For instance, P&G maintains its leadership position in menstruation products, while Clearblue (now part of Swiss Precision Diagnostics) and Medela keep theirs in the fertility and maternity fields respectively. In many cases, it has also been seen that older and newer companies can successfully coexist together by offering different services for the same health area, as it happens for example with menstruation, where apps such as Flo or Clue have millions of users worldwide, which is compatible with P&G being the market leader in menstruation consumer products. The Femtech start-ups that have achieved the most success and market recognition have been those that focused on proving solutions for unaddressed areas, rather than entering already covered ones, leveraging new technologies and resources.

This industry is also characterized by mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and strategic partnerships. When a start-up enters a field successfully, it is likely that it will attract the attention of the more established players. Data on M&A activities show that in the past 5 years there have been around 68 of these deals in the Femtech space, although only 13 of them have exceeded $75M4. Interestingly, despite the growth in start-ups in the software, services and health tech systems sectors since the 2010s, the companies on the buy side of these deals have shown a clear preference for more tangible assets, with most of the companies acquired specializing in consumer products (30%), devices (15%) or pharmaceuticals (13%) (Figure 2); and the largest deals belonging to the devices and pharmaceuticals health areas (Table 5).

This industry is also characterized by mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and strategic partnerships. When a start-up enters a field successfully, it is likely that it will attract the attention of the more established players. Data on M&A activities show that in the past 5 years there have been around 68 of these deals in the Femtech space, although only 13 of them have exceeded $75M4. Interestingly, despite the growth in start-ups in the software, services and health tech systems sectors since the 2010s, the companies on the buy side of these deals have shown a clear preference for more tangible assets, with most of the companies acquired specializing in consumer products (30%), devices (15%) or pharmaceuticals (13%) (Figure 2); and the largest deals belonging to the devices and pharmaceuticals health areas (Table 5).

In the expanding Femtech landscape, the boom of the last decade has brought both inclusivity and challenges. The industry has broadened its scope, addressing previously overlooked health issues, but this growth has also attracted newcomers who may not have a clear purpose. As a result, many new companies have struggled to establish themselves, while established players focusing on crucial issues have maintained their leadership. The success of these new entrants hinges on their ability to identify untapped market opportunities and set clear goals and strategies, while the bigger companies keep fighting the continuous pressure to be innovative and identify potential amongst all the new entries. In essence, the Femtech landscape remains a dynamic and competitive ecosystem where a genuine commitment to addressing pressing needs distinguishes the leaders from the trend-followers.

The emergence of Femtech has brought much needed attention on women’s health and wellness, addressing longstanding gaps and disparities in the health industry. With increasing investment and interest from both consumers and investors, this sector continues to evolve to solve women’s unique health needs. Nevertheless, in order to successfully capitalise on this market, it is necessary to have a clear vision of the strategy and targets, which can be quite challenging in a continuously evolving industry. Sector & Segment can offer a hand to help you navigate these challenges.

The Sector & Segment team has extensive experience in evaluating the optimal market approach, by analysing and quantifying users’ needs and preferences, and designing a personalised plan of action according to the company’s vision. Specifically, our experts can provide help with:

  • Identifying and segmenting consumers and their needs and behaviour to size the market opportunity.
  • Analysing and mapping out the competitive landscape.
  • Segmenting and quantifying the market, identifying unaddressed gaps.
  • Design the go-to-market strategy to improve product positioning.  

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María Franco
Written by

Maria Franco Hernandez


  1. Contributed: The Rise of Femtech | MobiHealthNews. Accessed April 26, 2023. 
  2. FemTech Industry Landscape Overview Q4 2021.
  3. What is femtech? | PitchBook. Accessed April 26, 2023. 
  4. PitchBook Advanced Search Results - Companies & Deals. Accessed November 17, 2023. 

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