Menopause is defined as the natural biological process that marks the end of the female reproductive years. The symptoms that occur during and after menopause can differ greatly from person to person. It is a significant milestone that can bring about many changes and symptoms that include hot flashes, mood swings, and sleep disturbances. While menopause is a natural process, it can be a vulnerable and challenging time as being perimenopausal or menopausal can impact an individual's physical, emotional, mental, and social well-being due to changes in hormones. While some may experience minimal or no symptoms, others may encounter severe symptoms that disrupt their daily routine and overall quality of life.
It is estimated that there are around 13 million people who are currently perimenopausal or menopausal in the UK (Wellbeing of Women, 2022) which is equivalent to a third of the entire UK female population. But, with menopause symptoms affecting such a huge amount of the population, why is there still such a lack of support and information?
Female health issues, and particularly those who are postmenopausal, continue to be a low priority for medical research, which is a common theme of the medical gender gap which has resulted in women being mistreated and misdiagnosed for decades. Furthermore, it isn’t common knowledge that BIPOC experience menopause and perimenopause earlier than white female's and tend to have more intense symptoms (Women’s Health Across the Nation), but these stories aren’t being told.
Nobody should have to suffer in silence with their symptoms. Unfortunately, a study conducted in the UK found that 45% of female's felt that menopausal symptoms had a negative impact on their work and 47% who needed to take a day off work due to menopause symptoms say they wouldn't tell their employer the real reason (British Menopause Society). Additionally, almost 900,000 people in the UK had left their jobs because of menopausal symptoms affecting their ability to work (BUPA, 2019). For even more insight into this read a report by members of the UCL Social Research Institute as they look into ‘the consequences of early menopause and menopause symptoms for labour market participation’ here: https://bit.ly/3z3Zyrr
Female health is fast becoming a key focus with the advancement of FemTech, with the industry anticipated to grow 16% CADR in the next ten years, largely due to the usage of digital technologies which are being utilised to manage women’s health in developed countries, and to improve access to care in remote areas (GlobeNewswire). It is imperative that more support is channelled here for people who experience menopause and we believe wearables will have a game-changing role in leading the way in this space.
Menopause symptoms can range from hot flushes, chills, night sweats and sleep problems, to mood changes and more. Limitations on treatment and support have prompted tech experts to create alternative options. A common trend in the wearable sphere has seen growth in the creation of wearable watches and bracelets to soothe uncomfortable menopausal symptoms.
Grace is a fantastic example of this as this wearable device has been specially created to provide support for those who experience symptoms of menopause, specifically those who suffer from intense hot flushes. This innovative device, which is in the form of a bracelet, is designed to be worn throughout the day and night, providing its users with a sense of relief and comfort during the often uncomfortable and disruptive hot flush episodes. The Grace bracelet has the unique ability to detect when a hot flush is about to occur through its sensors and responds with an intense cooling mechanism that helps ease the discomfort and surprise of this common symptom. This technology has the potential to make a significant impact on the lives of millions.
With an estimated 10 million women experiencing hot flashes alone, the Grace bracelet presents a huge opportunity to provide non-invasive and drug-free relief for one of the most common and challenging symptoms of menopause. This device can offer a sense of control over their own health and well-being, empowering them to manage their symptoms in a way that is convenient, discreet, and effective. This device is an exciting development that offers hope and support for those who are seeking a safe and effective way to manage their symptoms.
Another strong and similar example would be the Embr Wave which is a wearable watch device that also offers rapid relief by providing precisely engineered patterns of cooling or warming sensations to the inner wrist; the device works with the body's natural ability to regulate itself in response to temperature changes. Clinical research has shown that Embr Wave can provide immediate relief from hot flashes and night sweats, as well as improve sleep.
There are also FemTech pioneers who utilise AI to offer support through highly accurate detection and prediction of hot flashes and sleep disturbance. They created Midday which is an application that was created to address the lack of deep tech used by other apps to assist in supporting people through the menopausal transition. The app utilises AI technologies to deliver personalised insights, education, and therapeutic support, and has the ability to pair with commercial wearable devices such as Fitbit. It also utilises advanced algorithms to customise strategies based on individual menopause progression, symptoms, and characteristics. Additionally, Midday offers virtual care with menopause specialists and a Mayo Clinic-developed tool to assist users in determining whether hormone replacement therapy is appropriate for them. In the near future, the app will use wearable technology to identify and track hot flashes, assess their triggers, and recommend relief strategies to users. By measuring various biomarkers of menopause and wellbeing, Midday can determine the underlying causes of symptoms, provide relief, and adjust to changes over time.
FemTech companies are also conducting in-depth studies and research to fill in data gaps and prepare for future devices, such as IdentifyHer, who aim to use AI to personalise the management of menopausal symptoms and reduce the future risk of disease. Currently, they are running a study to prepare for their wearable product which could automatically detect menopausal events. They have partnered with University College Cork and are currently seeking people who are experiencing menopause to take part in a data collection trial. Read more here
Other kinds of wearables can also support menopausal symptoms, like Oura Ring and Sensate, as they aim to help users have better quality sleep and elevate their mood. Although they aren't specifically marketed towards people who experience menopause, they have the ability to support certain symptoms.
It’s fantastic to see so many technological advancements taking place to target the gender health gap head on and offer support to those in need. We believe wearable tech - and FemTech - plays a key part in achieving equality and equity in healthcare as with the right investment and focus, the possibilities are essentially endless when it comes to monitoring and tracking symptoms; helping to fill in the current data gaps. Additionally, female-tailored products can provide personalised solutions previously thought not possible to answer so many unanswered questions around female health.
It is evident there is a huge amount of growth in the interest of wearable devices to support people who experience menopause, but there is still a way to go. Funding is an essential part of growth and with such a lack of investment for FemTech, having such open discussions are important. We look forward to seeing more innovative solutions being developed and one day creating an environment where menopause is no longer something to dread, but rather a natural process that can be navigated with confidence through the application of female-focused, advanced technology.
If you or someone you know would be interested in collaborating with us to create a FemTech wearable device, get in touch with us today. We offer a varied range of services that can support your development journey as we provide broad technical assistance across all dimensions of device design, prototyping, development and production.
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