Thanks in large part to the rise of femtech, menopause is only just starting to get its time in the spotlight.
The global population of women 40+ is growing daily and by 2025 an estimated 1.1 billion women are expected to be perimenopausal. These women are tech-savvy, with high discretionary spend, and are increasingly seeking out personalized solutions to support their wellbeing, but not always finding them.
Closing the mental wellbeing gap. A recent research conducted by FemAging found that over 50% of women going through menopause were seeking solutions to help them manage mental health symptoms such as stress and anxiety, but that only 7% of products targeting this population actually included stress management features.
What’s next? Broadening the scope of the menopause product category to address the underserved needs of this powerful population group.
As with the conversation surrounding mental health, the rise of femtech has helped to slowly bring the topic of menopause into the mainstream. As more and more prominent figures discuss their experiences in the public sphere, #Menopause is even finding its place on social media and Instagram, with menopause influencers and doctors like Ellen Dolgen and @TheGirlfriendDoctor.
And yet, the slow progress of the last few years in unraveling the stigmas associated with menopause has yet to significantly impact the menopause treatment gap and there remains a deep lack of understanding of the complexities of this part of life. Nearly a third of menopausal women in FemAging’s annual survey feel their doctor isn’t comfortable talking about menopause and, possibly as a result, 73% of respondents said they weren’t treating their menopausal symptoms.
Menopause is a Mind-Body Journey
The majority of tech startups tend to focus on the physical symptoms related to menopause (think hot flashes, night sweats, sleep disorders, loss of libido, and weight gain). But very few of the digital health solutions address the mental health issues associated with menopause, even though 69% of menopausal women suffer from mood swings and just under half experience anxiety.
These mood changes include sadness, lack of motivation, aggressiveness, stress, and depression caused by hormonal shifts. As a result, primetime women may also experience night sweats that lead to sleeping disorders, continuing the cycle. These changes can sometimes start before menopause – known as premenopause – which Harvard Health suggests the incidence of depression doubled during this time.
While all of these physiological and emotional changes are happening, the awareness surrounding the importance of mental health is growing amongst primetime women too. For example, a recent US survey of 1,000 women aged between 40 and 65 revealed that nearly half (45%) believe managing stress and anxiety is important, while over a third (36%) interested in female tech solutions aimed at aging say they want products that help them manage stress.
Most shockingly and interesting for us is that only a paltry 7% of existing products provide stress management features for primetime women experiencing menopause – indicating a gaping chasm in the market.
The 1.1 billion women who will soon be post-menopausal represent billions of dollars of spending on menopause wellness products and services: the global market size was estimated at $14.7 billion in 2020, with the US being the largest consumer of menopause wellness products.
While the menopause market is increasingly growing, it’s largely untapped. Since 2009, global startups focused on menopause have raised just $254m – a fraction of the $1.023 billion funding given to US women’s health technology startups in 2020 alone. But things are set to change: The FemTech market is predicted to exceed $60 billion within the next decade and grow 16% year on year.
This powerful group of women are tech-savvy and are expecting digital tools and services to support them in the menopause stage of life.
- According to the the Fem-Aging 2020 study on women going through menopause 73% use mobile apps and one third use voice enabled technologies
- An AARP survey found that nearly all women currently in the menopause lifestage—93%—are interested in non-invasive tech solutions for menopause symptoms
Lay of the Land
The industry catching on and starting to address the menopause consumer. Pharma is taking an interest. Bayer announced the acquisition of KaNDy Therapeutics for $875 million. Biotech companies such as Aphrodite Health, the first female-focused psychedelic company, are also developing solutions for mood disorders during menopause. Meanwhile, startups and companies are repositioning already existing non-invasive consumer products and techniques, such as supplements (omega 3 and vitamin D), vaginal moisturizers, wellness programs, and remote consultations to the menopausal market. There are very few startups whose solutions are unique to the menopausal market.
They are generalized into two groups: symptom reduction and telehealth:
1. Startups tackling symptoms:
- Hot flashes- Embr Labs developed a thermal wellness bracelet to help regulate temperature. Moona developed a precision cooling pillow to help reduce hot flashes at night and decreases sleep disturbance. Fifty 1 apparel is designing “cool clothing for hot women.”
- Vaginal dryness- Madorra was granted by the FDA “breakthrough device designation” for the company’s non-invasive, home-use device. Joylux also provides vaginal rejuvenation products.
- Dry skin due to lack of collagen- Womanness and PauseWell-Aging.
- B-wom and Chorus app offering personalized content as well as coping and tracking of menopausal symptoms
- XRHealth is a virtual reality exercise startup offering cognitive-behavioral therapy to reduce anxiety and hot flashes.
As the taboo surrounding menopause and mental health dissipates, primetime women are regaining control of their lives and wellbeing. Yet still, there’s an urgent and unmet need to address and support women’s mental wellbeing as they journey through perimenopause and menopause.
If you’re an entrepreneur or startup, take note. This need represents exciting opportunities for innovation and the chance to make a vital, positive difference in women’s lives by helping to alleviate physical pain and mental anguish. It’s more than taking a piece out of a market share; it is about serving an often ignored demographic. Your company has the opportunity to revolutionize the way the world approaches an entire phase in a life cycle. And that’s what innovation is all about.