Daye, Adia, Leika and Sura are some of the femtech start-ups that are hoping to transform female healthcare in a growing market

Woman with smartphone

Period cramps and hormonal contraceptives are some of the female healthcare challenges the industry has largely failed to overcome – but a new wave of femtech start-ups are hoping to break new ground.

The female technology trend has been gaining more attention as the number of women entrepreneurs come forward with ideas to disrupt the male-dominated healthtech market.

These four business founders presented their apps, products and healthcare services at the Giant Health Event 2018 medtech conference in London.


Daye: the pain-relieving tampon

Valentina Milanova, CEO of Daye, claims her pain-relieving tampon will allow women to “say goodbye to menstrual cramps and discomfort”.

The tampon is infused with CBD oil, derived from cannabis, to soothe period cramps.

It also doubles as a health screening device and is able to diagnose common STIs (sexually-transmitted infections) by using menstrual blood to help diagnostics.

Valentina says: “What we are doing is breaking the taboo around menstrual blood and using it to provide for women’s health.”

Femtech Daye pain relieving tampon

She highlights the importance of her product by citing a piece of research from Kings College London earlier this year that compared period pain to the level of pain people experience when they are having a heart attack.

“A lot of men found this surprising,” she says.

“I guess the role of technology and entrepreneurship in femtech is to have a level of empathy that you can only have if you’ve experienced these issues yourself.

“The contribution that we can make as founders in technology is to collect more data in order to bridge the gap of research which exists today and also to provide practical solutions to resolve problems that women have.”


Adia: helping improve fertility health

Adia is a fertility health service that uses home fertility kits to help track and improve women’s chances of having a child.

Rose Acton, founder Adia
Rose Acton, co-founder Adia

Rose Acton, co-founder and COO of the femtech start-up, says: “Women’s reproductive health today is a very reactive practice.

“Why is it that women must wait up to one year trying to conceive before getting a test to understand their fertility health and why should women have to endure three miscarriages before being referred to a specialist?

“Women’s emotional health is completely ignored during this period.”

Adia was inspired by her fellow co-founder’s experience with pregnancy complications.

Lina Chan was hoping to have a baby but experienced a miscarriage, a still birth and then lost her fertility.

Rosa adds: “Fertility is something that women aren’t educated on but technology could play a role in bringing them the information they need and providing data on their health.

“That can be very empowering and allows women to make informed decisions and plan ahead.”


Leika: an app for sexuality discovery

Leika’s mission statement is to guide women through the world of sex and sexuality through a sex education “personal coach” app.

The company’s website says it acts as a tool for sexual self-care and wellbeing.

“Through entertaining and educative content, Leika guides you on a journey of self-discovery.” it says.

“Leika empowers women to discover what brings them sexual pleasure and to see sex not as an obstacle, but as an opportunity for growth and personal development.”

Co-founder Billie Quinlan explains the app “focuses on biology and psychology to help people understand their sexuality in a more holistic way”.

Billie Quinlan, co-founder of Leika
Billie Quinlan, co-founder of Leika

She says: “Personally, the reason Dr Anna Hushlak, co-founder of Leika, and I came to have a lens around sexuality and wanted to tackle this was because of our own experiences.

“Anna was raped when she was 15 and I was sexually assaulted in the workplace.

“Both our frustrations stem from those experiences so we have a real desire to change that experience for women.”


Sura: changing the approach to contraception

Shardi Nahavandi, CEO and co-founder of femtech start-up Sura, hopes her product can break the “one-size-fits-all approach to contraception”.

The Sura app gives women a personal contraception plan based on their menstrual and emotional health.

Femtech panel speaking at Giant Health, pictured from left to right: Dr Janani Param, Rose Acton, Shardi Nahavandi, Billie Quinlan and Valentina Milanova
Femtech panel speaking at Giant Health, pictured from left to right: Dr Janani Param, Rose Acton, Shardi Nahavandi, Billie Quinlan and Valentina Milanova

The company claims that 41% of GP consultations conducted substandard risk assessment and documentation of medical eligibility while prescribing hormonal contraceptives.

Sura takes a different approach by taking into account the woman’s hormonal, genetic and physical profile.

Shardi says: “We bring all that evidence together to try and understand the underlying health conditions that women have and then devise a tailored and personalised method that doesn’t carry side-effects.”

It took 14 years for Shardi to be diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome, which affects the ovaries and causes irregular periods.

“Ever since I was 15 I was going to the doctor telling them that something was wrong and they kept coming back to me saying it was nothing,” says Shardi.

“This lack of information and frustration is the reason why I want to make a change.”