Over 100 Israeli companies are developing FemTech solutions that offer more control and more freedom
Israel is using AI to boost the success rate of fertility treatments, smartphones to track women’s cycles, and natural solutions to painful intimacy.
The Startup Nation is at the forefront of a revolution in FemTech – female technology – aimed at giving women more control and more freedom.
“Israel has about 100-120 companies dealing with women’s health – from medical devices to digital health pharma companies. The field is growing,” says Benny Zeevi, a pediatric cardiologist who is now managing general partner at venture capital firm Tel Aviv Venture Partners.
“Women are important – 50 percent of the population. Research and development in life sciences for women’s health is less than 1 percent than that of men. There is a real need,” he said during the two-day Women’s Health Innovations and Inventions Conference, held in Tel Aviv earlier this week.
FemTech – women’s healthcare innovation designed to combat female-specific conditions – is a largely underfunded field. But the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for FemTech innovation.
“We want to push more and more effort towards the point of care management and home management. Women were reluctant to come to the hospital for medical attention,” said Moshe Hod, Chair of Pregnancy and Noncommunicable Diseases at the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics.
The conference featured 60 Israeli startups propelling innovative solutions to women’s healthcare problems, including maternal health, menstrual health, sexual health, fertility, menopause, and contraception. NoCamels spotlights four of them:
Ocon Healthcare has developed a tiny ball made from a super-elastic alloy (mix of chemical elements) as an easy method of delivering intrauterine drugs. It’s an alternative to commonly used intrauterine devices (IUDs) and oral medications that often have systemic side effects.
The company says its IUB Ballerine is 99 percent effective as a long-term birth control method, similar to other copper intrauterine devices.
It also produces the IUB SEAD (Spherical Endometrial Ablation Device), which works to treat abnormal or heavy uterine bleeding – a problem that around one in five women faces worldwide.
The company has another product, IUB Prima, currently in development as an intrauterine sustained-release drug delivery agent to help treat endometriosis, fibroids, bleeding, and menopause.
“We don’t know our bodies at all. We don’t know what therapies are out there for us. We suffer quietly in pain and shame. These types of therapies – and the other companies that are around here – are making such amazing changes for women, women’s leaders, but also, women’s health. So we have to be at the forefront,” Ocon CEO Keren Leshem tells NoCamels.
TempDrop, founded in 2013, created an all-in-one monitor that allows women to track their fertility cycles through their smartphones. The sensor, a band worn on the upper arm, is designed for women who are looking to conceive or want better fertility awareness.
“If women would track their cycles, they would know so much about their bodies and be able to make conscious decisions,” Michael Vardi, TempDrop founder and CEO, tells NoCamels.
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“They would know exactly when ovulation starts and when the fertile window is up. They would know exactly when they’re about to start menstruation so they can prepare themselves. They can know if there are any hormonal imbalances. Just from tracking their cycle.”
The armband sensor is powered by an AI algorithm that uses female body temperature to track cycles and fertility windows. After ovulation, women’s body temperature rises and remains at a higher range until their next menstrual cycle. The Tempdrop armband contains multiple sensors to continuously monitor women’s temperature data throughout the night. All data collected loads to the company’s accompanying mobile application.
Aquafit Intimate is working to help women achieve pain-free intimacy through natural solutions and an online self-care support platform.
Founded in 2017, the company has developed a patented line of intimate gel stick products that combine vaginal muscle therapy with pH balance and active agency delivery.
Aquafit is working to make sexual wellness accessible to all women – particularly those who experience painful sex.
“Most women don’t talk about it, but 40% of women have vaginal pain. Typically, it’s discovered during sex or trying to have sex. And no one’s thinking about it with each other, and no one’s speaking about it to doctors. The doctors are just speaking about it [with each other]. That’s where we come in,” Aquafit Co-Founder and CMO Rebecca Sternberg tells NoCamels.
By combining applied science, pure ingredients, usability, and smooth design, the company’s products offer women a way to revitalize their sexual wellness. The company’s product offerings are tailored to women of varying ages and stages of maternal and menstrual health. The products are currently offered in Israel and the European Union.
Aquafit also offers an online platform for women to seek sexual wellness guidance and track their intimacy progress. The site offers women a way to digitally log and validate their sexual discomfort.
FertilAI, founded in 2021, is developing an AI algorithm to increase the success rate of fertility treatments. With an innovative online platform, the company emphasizes improving the workflows between patients and doctors.
The company says one in six women encounter issues when trying to conceive. Traditionally, their path to fertility has included natural cycle ovulation prediction, medicated cycle tracking, ovulation induction, and IVF. FertilAI aims to use Big Data and artificial intelligence to improve each step of this complex process.
“About 10% of patients reported medication errors due to poor communications in IVF treatments during a recent study,” FertilAI chief technical officer Almog Luz tells NoCamels.
“We aim to solve that with our first product, a communication platform consisting of a patient application, doctor application, and admin web app that allows patients to receive and approve instructions, and the clinics to effectively monitor them. Moreover, our AI algorithms built on top of that platform will assist physicians in clinical decision making to improve success rates and reduce their workload.”
FertilAI’s tailored communication system allows patients to receive instructions, communicate with medical professionals, transfer test results, and store fertility data. In streamlining a natural ovulation prediction algorithm, the company’s platform provides users with a precise (99 percent accurate) ovulation date. FertilAI’s platform requires fewer blood tests than traditional professional ovulation tracking (2-3 instead of 3-5) and no ultrasounds (traditionally 3-5 are required).