If you are a woman, how often do you think about your pelvic floor? Sometimes, always or never? You know about the direct benefits of yoga on your physical, mental and spiritual self. The sequence of postures build strength, train balance, trim your midsection, and cultivate centeredness on line at the grocery store—but how often do you think of the workout routine for your lady bits?
Remember last Monday’s yoga class; the instructor touted certain postures that aid in the strengthening of these essential internal muscles. You nodded as she went on, in vivid detail about the “hammock” of pelvic floor muscles which support the uterus, bladder, small intestine and rectum and can deteriorate due to age, surgeries, or childbirth. Urinary incontinence? Strengthen your pelvic floor. Got constipation? Ditto. Painful sex? Pelvic floor, ladies.
Hold that thought for 1, 2, 3—release.
Femtech’s importance drives market potential
Welcome to the year of Femtech, the innovative surge that aims to develop smarter products that address female health & wellbeing, both in traditional healthcare and on the consumer side. According to Forbes, this entire category includes everything from period trackers like Clue, apps to prescribe birth control, internet-connected breast pumps, sex toys, apps and wearables for fertility tracking as well as elegantly designed products for pelvic floor strengthening as well as tampon alternatives to start.
Women’s health issues aren’t always taken seriously by investors, but this Femtech market map by CBinsights gives us a jumping off point to visually sketch out its progress and momentum. It’s definitely progress that 45+ startups have raised over $1.1 billion in total to help improve women’s healthcare. The Femtech map highlights fertility solutions, period & fertility tracking mobile apps, at-home fertility monitoring devices, pregnancy & nursing care, pelvic healthcare, general healthcare and women’s sexual wellness. Jill Richmond from Forbes is ecstatic and states, “thankfully investors are starting to catch on to the importance-and market potential-of technology which cater to the nearly completely ignored health requirements of almost half of the population.”
The companies gaining traction in this sector are funded by high-profile investors like Octopus Ventures, female-focused VC firm AllBright, as well as Google Maps founder Lars Rasmussen and other angel investors. In March 2017, London-based femtech startup Elvie raised $6 million for its award-winning kegel exerciser, described as “a bit like a Fitbit for your lady bits,” by the CEO and cofounder Tania Boler. This brings Elvie’s total raised since it was founded in 2013 to $8.6 million, which is stunning.
Intimate technology harnesses tried-and-true methods
Elvie’s intimate technology product is a pod-like kegel tracker made out of silicone with force and motion sensors that women insert in their vaginas, touted on their website as “your most personal trainer.” A corresponding mobile app tracks the strength of contraction, duration and intensity and displays the output real-time on the screen. The workouts help train the pelvic floor muscles using the concept of the tried-and-true kegel exercises first established by gynecologist Arnold Kegel in 1950.
Kegels are not exactly cutting-edge, but they are strongly recommended by so many reputable sources, (not just Cosmo, ladies), including the Harvard Health blog. It’s hard to dispute their power to aid women struggling with urinary incontinence, constipation and painful sex, amongst other issues. Here’s a how-to primer from MayoClinic to help you decide if lo-fi “floor training” kegels are for you, or if you are game to go the hi-fi route with Elvie, you join the ranks of actor Gwyneth Paltrow, and bathe in the recent accolade of “Hottest Hardware startup,” by the Europa Awards in June.
Femtech on the map cultivates change
Progress is being made to improve women’s health on a global scale and we agree that the femtech scene is beginning to show traction. The femtech market map shows that there’s growing interest in launching startups in this sector and that these companies have multiplied in recent years. We at tekMountain Women’s eHealth are dedicated to contributing to the dynamic conversation serving the wider women’s health community and are so thrilled with these advancements for women’s health and wellness. We are helping to cultivate a culture of collaboration, dialogue, and resource-sharing. United, we have the power to truly change the world by connecting with other Women’s health advocates across the globe. We invite you to join us on our website, Twitter and LinkedIn.