Free The Birds Women’s Health 2023 Report

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Consulting agency (and NEXT Award finalists) Free The Birds has released the Women’s Health 2023 report, which dives into the companies and cultural movements leading the way forward for female-focused health and wellness.

Conversations and innovations around the subject have resulted in a booming global market, with the women’s health sector set to reach $63.02 billion by 2023. Recent developments on the investment landscape include a $4.7 million seed round for women’s vitamins company Perelel, a $3 million pre-seed round for hormonal wellness brand Wile, period-tracking app Flo closed $50 million in Series B financing, and women’s health-centric consumer packaged goods (CPG) company Intrinsic raised an additional $15 million in new funding.

Free The Birds researched companies innovating in women’s health across all age groups, from consumer brands to healthcare start-ups. Here are the biggest stats and case studies cited:

Market Growth

Audience Opportunity

Teen Support

Moving beyond topical acne care and period care products, companies are offering holistic support options for those navigating the hormonal ups and downs of puberty. These include:

  • Gryt: a health coaching collective offering skincare products as well as a digital platform providing personalized skincare solutions for adolescents going through puberty.
  • Wild Nutrition: a health supplement enterprise with food-grown ingredients and gender-specific formulations.
  • Root: a mobile app which offers evidence-based techniques, support, and techniques for anxiety management.

Period Management

Sustainable period care brands are bringing a waste-reducing approach to monthly cycles, while apps are helping individuals manage their lives in accordance with their hormone levels. 

  • Wear ‘Em Out produces reusable pads with metal poppers to adhere to underwear. The product can be easily washed after use.
  • Fluus produces fully flushable period pads made from plant fibers and natural adhesives.
  • PUMA & Modibodi collaborated on a line of leak-free activewear and underwear.
  • FitrWoman is a menstrual cycle-tracking app that adapts nutrition and exercise routines based on menstrual cycles.
  • Gynica offers cannabis-based solutions for endometriosis, period pain, and other gynecological conditions.
  • August offers a monthly period product box that is fully customizable. In the wake of Roe v. Wade, the company supplied pregnancy tests in the guise of tampons to avoid digital surveillance.

Menstrual Medical Solutions

Period blood is now being harnessed as a potential tool for medical prevention and treatment. With Black women being three times more likely to die of pregnancy-related causes than white women, there is also a strong imperative for not just increased education but equal level of access.

  • Qvin has created Q-Pad, a period pad with a removal strip that collects blood for a variety of health testing such as cervical cancer detection and glycemic levels.
  • Emm is a wearable period cup equipped with biosensors to track flow rate, volume, cycle length, and regularity via a corresponding app.
  • Fast Like A Girl, written by Dr. Mindy Pelz, offers a female- and hormone-specific guide to weight loss and well-being.

Safer and More Sensual Sex

Education is one aspect of practicing safer sex. Now a handful of companies are improving access to testing and information, while others are helping individuals find the best path for their own sexual journey.

  • I Play Safe is an at-home STI testing kit and app to test for the six most common STIs and share statuses with partners.
  • Julie is an emergency contraception brand available over the counter (OTC). For every box sold the company donates to a network of health centres and charities to improve access to healthcare for all women.
  • Ferly is a guide to sex life improvement, with expert audio programs created by therapists, psychologists, and sex coaches. 
  • Jems is a cruelty-free, vegan, and gluten-free condom brand. Its products contain 100% silicone lube and are free of ingredients like parabens, paraffin, cetyl alcohol, and spermicide.

Family Planning

For those in a nesting mood, a range of apps and companies are providing support from start to finish such as:

  • tiniest Biome: a test kit and app to measure children’s microbes to inform their skin regimes, nutrition, and activities. 
  • SaliStick: an innovative pregnancy test that measures the hormone β-hCG in saliva for early and accurate detection.
  • Leia: an app developed by postpartum specialists, therapists, nurses, and physicians to offer support for postnatal women’s health and well-being.
  • Black Doula Directory: a directory to pair Black expectant mothers with a Black doula. A new version of the resource was launched by Baby Dove in partnership with Sista Midwife Productions with the goal of doubling the number of Black doulas available in its network.
  • Cleo: an app to support working families with 24/7 support around subjects such as caring for vulnerable family members and family planning. 
  • The Mental Load Project: a day-to-day guide for women with time management support and family workshops.
  • Lady Garden Foundation: a national women’s health charity campaigning for gynecological health. 
  • Fountain Life: a worldwide diagnostic membership service using AI technology and MRI scans to address health risks such as cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.

Aging Well

With a third of UK women leaving work before the pension age due to health and well-being issues and 50% of women over the age of 50 breaking a bone due to poor health, consumers are looking to prioritize their health, be it mental or physical, when it comes to their later life stages. UK retailer Holland & Barrett developed a menopause hub with 1:1 online support for its offerings. But there are still stigmas to break down, with 61% of women not discussing menopause out of fear of being judged. Enterprises are now looking to improve women’s lives over the latter decades of their lives.

  • GenM: Described as “the menopause partner for brands,” the organization is looking to guide consumers to the brands best suited to their needs through a logo signpost, improving menopause visibility and the life stage experience for individuals overall. 
  • ThisWomanLIFTS: a female-focused training program that considers female-specific factors such as hormones, pelvic floor issues, and the menstrual cycle. 
  • Oura: a ring designed to track your sleep, activity levels, body temperature, and more that tracks health trends over time. 
  • Modern Age: an aging wellness clinic with a holistic approach using bone and blood scans as well as cognitive tests.
  • Micropause: a well-ness brand that launched the adaptogenic and nootropic-infused Micropause Gummy to help alleviate menopause symptoms. 
  • Tabu Group: a sexual well-being brand specifically tailored towards perimenopausal and menopausal customers.
  • Aquafit-Intimate: an intimate care brand to improve initimate and sexual health for women through gel stick products including a preintimacy version to hydrate and relax muscles and another to maintain the vaginal pH balance.
  • Beauty Despite Cancer: a range of beauty products to combat skin, nail, and scalp issues associated with cancer treatments.
  • Jude: a bladder health brand with products including underwear, supplements, and pads to help with matters such as stress-based incontinence.
  • Train with Joan: an exercise app and book developed by 75-year-old wellness coach Joan MacDonald.

The report outlines the importance of taking a multifaceted and cross-industry approach to women’s health. Products become a tool for education, while educational organizations are teaming up with CPG brands to effect far-reaching change. The market for middle-aged women and seniors is continuing to see much-needed innovation. Destigmatizing conversations is important across the board, be it when it comes to safer sex practices or menopause. A more holistic approach and authentic brand messaging are proving to be popular touchstones for the companies looking to stand out in the market—for product and service offerings that are as unique as the very individuals that they cater to.

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