In recent years we have seen many European startups tackling menopause. why? well, femtech is expected to be a $50bn market by 2025. While many startups have built products and services around fertility or periods, one neglected category is menopause.
According to data from Pitchbook, menopause startups worldwide have raised $254m since early 2009; femtech startups raised $498m in 2019 alone.
But times are changing. Menopause and its health implications for women is slowly increasing. In Europe, Britain, in particular, is leading the way — all but one of the nine startups below are UK-based.
Investors are beginning to recognize the $600bn market opportunity that lies in menopause tech. And companies themselves are recognizing the role they should be playing in creating access to menopause treatments, in order to keep women in the workforce.
Top startups tackling menopause
MPowder offers supplements for women at each stage of menopause. From perimenopause, through to menopause and postmenopause.
Founder Rebekah Brown got the idea for the company when she was approaching menopause aged 47. Her doctor recommended trying out some supplements to manage her symptoms. But when she entered her local health food shop she was shocked at what she saw.
She recalls feeling like an ‘end of life shelf’. She said all of the supplements had branding featuring elderly women, with lots of pink and fluffy jumpers. And nearly all of the products on offer were generic multivitamins, with no real information on how the ingredients could help women.
MPowder, in contrast, offers supplements developed by nutritionists to target specific problems women face at different stages of menopause. For example, the perimenopause powder Perio Boost contains ingredients such as soy, flaxseed, and cacao to boost energy, and magnesium to aid joint health.
MPowder now has an active community of women who offer feedback on products. They also interact with each other to share information and tips on controlling symptoms.
Alva offers online tailored treatment plans and information for women who are struggling with menopausal symptoms.
The treatment plans start with a free online consultation where users get information about their symptoms and treatment options. For example, systemic hormone replacement therapy (from £15 a month) and vaginal oestrogen (from £18 a month). The appropriate treatment is then delivered to the user’s door within three days. After three months, a doctor reviews the prescription to ensure the user is on the right dose and makes any necessary changes.
Alva has raised £1m in funding from Heartcore Capital, JamJar, Ascension, and a handful of angel investors. It has a growing community of 10,000 women on its platform.
Amng the startups tackling menopause, Peanut is an app connecting women throughout all stages of motherhood. By introducing users to women nearby who are at a similar life stage, Peanut provides access to a community of women who are there to listen, share information and offer each other advice.
Last month, Peanut launched a new community focused on women going through menopause in an effort to reduce stigma and encourage honest conversations.
Michelle Kennedy, founder, and CEO of Peanut said that menopause was noticed to be popping up across our motherhood and fertility communities. Women were experiencing menopausal symptoms like memory loss, vaginal dryness, mood swings, hair loss, irregular periods. And they wanted to talk about it.
“This is a testament to exactly why Peanut Menopause is so needed. Women are ready to talk [about their issues], and they haven’t had a safe space to do so until now,” Michelle Kennedy added.
Vira Health’s app, Stella, offers personalised, science-backed treatment plans based on a woman’s specific symptoms of menopause.
“For example, Dr Rebecca Love says, if someone is dealing with sleep disturbances and urinary incontinence, her Stella plan would combine cognitive behavioural therapy, pelvic floor exercises and other guidance related to lifestyle and behaviour change. Dr Rebecca cofounded Vira Health with Andrea Berchowitz, a former consultant at McKinsey & Company.
The plans are 12 weeks long and are paid for on a subscription basis. The Stella platform also offers articles, recipes, mindfulness meditations, exercise suggestions and access to virtual events such as yoga classes or a Q&A with a gynaecologist.
The startup has so far raised £1.5m in seed funding from Local Globe, MMC Ventures and a handful of angel investors, such as former Spotify executive Sofia Bendz and Andrea Zitna, CRO of women’s health tech company Elvie.
For some women, the symptoms of menopause such as hot flushes, migraines, weight gain and anxiety can start as early as their mid-30s. This period before starting menopause, known as perimenopause, is what the founders of mySysters want to help women deal with the most.
Founded by Cheryl Behr and Cindy Moy Carr, mySysters is a symptom-tracking app that allows users to print a chart of what they’ve tracked in order to look for patterns or triggers. The app delivers daily, personalised content to users about menopause treatments, symptoms and side effects.
Peppy is an employee healthcare benefits company that supports underserved areas of healthcare including fertility, pregnancy and menopause. Peppy’s app gives anyone impacted by menopause symptoms access to support by connecting them with specialist practitioners. It also has an option for live consultations. Users can also chat with others via the app, access content, join live events and follow programmes to help them manage their symptoms.
Peppy has raised over $10m from investors such as Felix Capital, Outward VC, Seedcamp and Hambro Perks.
Another one in the list of startups tackling menopause is Bia Care. Bia Care is a virtual menopause clinic that offers group consultation programmes to give women tailored clinical advice from registered healthcare professionals. The programmes are based on the principles of lifestyle medicine. Bia Care’s holistic solutions include one-hour weekly consultations, which cover everything from supplements to sex, as well as personalised treatment plans for symptom relief.
Bia Care can also organise users to have treatment options such as hormonal replacement therapy (HRT). It helps to replenish falling oestrogen levels in the body, which can cause menopausal symptoms. Also, it gives nutrition advice and physiotherapy.
Bia Care is working with the UK’s National Health Service to deliver a cost-effective solution for women on a national level. It also raised an undisclosed amount of pre-seed funding in February this year, led by Kamet Ventures.
Hot flushes are a very common symptom of menopause that women go through. To help alleviate hot flushes and the problems associated with them, femtech hardware startup Astinno is developing a cooling wristband designed to help menopausal women moderate their temperature at night.
The sensor-packed device, which is called Grace, helps identify the onset of a hot flush by applying cool to a woman’s wrist — just like running your wrist under a cold tap.
The company last year raised grant funding of £360k from Innovate UK and is still in the process of advanced testing.
Moona offers cooling pillows that regulate a sleeper’s temperature throughout the night via an app.
The product was built for everyone to have better sleep, but founder and CEO Coline Juin says that a large proportion of Moona’s customer base is women going through menopause and suffering from hot flashes.
“Midlife women really like the product: it cools them down, helping them fall asleep faster and wake up less during the night,” she told Sifted.
B-wom is a digital coach helping women manage their intimate health at all stages of their lives. It offers symptom tracking, such as sexual discomfort or urine leaks, personalised recommendations and health action plans, as well as tailored daily content to help users learn about their bodies and improve their wellbeing.
B-wom offers a consumer-first service, but it is mainly pursuing a B2B model where employers can offer the product to female employees, and insurance and pharmaceutical companies can offer it to their customers.
Fizimed is the last one in this list of startups tackling menopause. The founders of Fizimed originally set out to develop a connected prosthetic knee for athletes with torn ACLs. But after realising how under-addressed the women’s health market is worldwide, they decided to pivot.
Fizimed’s product on the market today is a Kegel trainer for strengthening women’s pelvic floor. A woman’s pelvic floor can become weakened with age, pregnancy, childbirth and menopause. The kegel trainer helps to tighten and tone the pelvic floor muscles to aid in issues such as incontinence and lack of sensation during sex.
Fizimed has received €600k in seed funding and is backed by Femme Business Angels, a female-owned angel business network in Paris.