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From wellness to menopause care: 7 femtech startups to watch

Sharanya Pillai
Published Wed, Jul 28, 2021 · 08:00 AM

FEMTECH isn’t just about tracking periods and pregnancy. As The Business Times reported over the weekend, a growing number of entrepreneurs seek to address other health and wellness issues that women have long faced – be it hormone health, menopause or even the hush-hush topic of sexual pleasure.

Here are seven notable Singapore-based femtech startups that emerged under pandemic conditions.

EloCare: Breaking the silence over menopause   Medtech startup EloCare is developing wearable technology and a mobile app to help women and clinicians track their menopausal issues - such as hot flushes, increased heart rate and sweating - so that medical interventions can be better-designed.

"An appalling 75 per cent of those who seek care for their menopausal symptoms never get treated at the moment. Misdiagnosis and ineffective treatment are extremely common,” notes co-founder Mabel Nguyen, who has a PhD in biomedical engineering.

Good Vibes: Busting the sex toy taboo While sex toys are often joked about in hushed tones, sexual wellbeing is a legitimate issue, says Meryl Lim. Last year, she and three other male co-founders started Good Vibes, a self-funded e-commerce platform selling sex toys for women.

More than just being a retailer, Good Vibes is also shaping up to play an educational role. "I get a lot of questions like 'will this toy affect my relationship with my partner', or 'will I be addicted to it?' We try to put out more content on our blog and Instagram to break the myths," she says.

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Fig Health: Holistic care for PCOS

Maria Wang-Faulkner, a former global business development lead at Google, founded Fig Health last October to support women with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) and other conditions caused by hormonal imbalance.

The startup has developed a programme, delivered through an app, that provides users guided lifestyle changes to manage their PCOS, optional lab testing to monitor their progress and support from health experts as well as other women tackling PCOS. Fig Health has bagged pre-seed funding from Antler, 500 Startups and angel investors.

ZaZaZu: A “TripAdvisor” for sexual wellness Kickstarted in July last year, ZaZaZu offers a membership service for women that curates products and services centred on sexual wellbeing. These include "pleasure boxes" with sex toys and other wellness items, as well as workshops and webinars with relationship experts.

"The long-term goal is definitely to create a safe space to explore the intimacy journey, by Asian women, for Asian women - where the education gap is sealed and we can openly discuss sexual wellness," says its founder Liu Jingjin.  

ZaZaZu is now raising a seed round, after it previously secured US$135,000 in pre-seed funding from angel investors.

Ferne Health: Normalising STI tests Ferne Health is an online platform that provides home-based tests and consultations for sexual health, especially for women. It was launched last year by Liu Xi, an ex-Silicon Valley executive who felt strongly about making sexual health services more accessible for women.

When Ms Liu first spoke to investors about her idea, reactions were lukewarm. "I heard so many voices saying that if there is a need, there would already be services available; we wouldn't have to wait for you to do this," she recalls.But post-Circuit Breaker, investors started seeing the opportunities of this space.

Dear Doc: Democratising access to birth control

Founded by former Bayer executive Shruti Dwivedi, Dear Doc offers birth control consultations on its online platform, as well as sexual health counselling. 

Ms Dwivedi realised that many young women are not aware of the options when it comes to choosing the type of birth control. They are also limited to whatever supplies the clinic chooses to hold.

“One of the most common questions we get is which is the right type of birth control for me - and that's a good question," she says.

Ease Healthcare: No more long waits at clinics  With Ease Healthcare's platform, users can have birth control, emergency contraception and STI  (sexually transmitted infection) test kits delivered straight to their homes. The platform also offers sexual health teleconsultations.

There are "significant barriers to accessing sexual and reproductive health services in Singapore and in Asia that exist due to prevailing cultural norms and an existing infrastructure which still relies on face-to-face consultations at clinics", says co-founder Rio Hoe. 

"As a result, people often do not get the help they need due to the stigma, time and cost involved."

READ THE FULL STORY: Femtech: More than periods and pregnancy

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