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Approximately 1.3 billion women globally will be post-menopausal by 2030. Despite this large population, there are only a few products and services available today that are specifically tailored to meet their unique health and lifestyle needs. This demographic is not only vast but also able and eager to invest in solutions that alleviate symptoms, promote wellness and improve quality of life during menopause and beyond. In short: Menopause is a great place to start if you are in the business of innovation or investing and looking for opportunities with outsized returns both in terms of impact and financials.
What is menopause?
Generally speaking, menopause marks the end of a woman’s menstrual cycles and fertility and is usually confirmed after a woman has missed her periods for 12 consecutive months. Menopause usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55 and is characterized by a decrease in the production of hormones such as estrogen and progesterone by the ovaries. There are 34 menopause symptoms; hot flashes, sleep disturbances, mood changes and vaginal dryness are among the more common ones.
Although menopause is a significant period in a woman’s life and is marked by change, it doesn’t mean the end of her healthy, productive or sexual life. With proper management, women can continue to lead vibrant and fulfilling lives during and after menopause. Unfortunately — as is the case in many other areas of women’s health — significant knowledge and care gaps often keep women from receiving the support they need and deserve during this stage of life.
Innovation and menopause
In a quest for change, startups are embracing the opportunity and have started to create solutions to address these gaps. These solutions generally fall into one of the four following categories.
Menopause is not a one-size-fits-all journey, yet current healthcare systems often approach it as such. There’s an untapped opportunity to leverage precision medicine and digital health platforms to provide customized care plans, symptom tracking and easily accessible, remote consultations.
While hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a commonly prescribed treatment for menopausal symptoms, it isn’t suitable for everyone. This presents opportunities for the development and commercialization of non-hormonal drugs, therapies and treatments. These include nutraceuticals, medical devices and other lifestyle modification programs.
Mental Health Support
The psychological impact of menopause — including depression, anxiety and cognitive changes — is significantly under-addressed. Digital mental health solutions, counseling services and targeted cognitive-behavioral therapies (CBT) could fill this gap.
Education and Awareness
Lack of awareness and understanding around menopause leads to stigma and misdiagnosis. Platforms that provide evidence-based information, advice and support can empower women, employers and healthcare professionals to address menopause more effectively.
Menopause diagnosis has traditionally relied on clinical symptoms and the absence of menstruation for 12 consecutive months. Advancements in research and medical technology promise new approaches to diagnosing menopause more accurately and efficiently.
The Female Founders Fund estimates the menopause space is a $600 billion opportunity, and this number is poised to grow due to several favorable market drivers.
As the global population ages, the number of women entering menopause is set to skyrocket. Coupled with increased life expectancy, this means women will spend a third or more of their lives post-menopausal — a reality that’s driving demand for innovative solutions.
Menopause is moving out of the shadows, thanks in part to celebrities and influencers openly discussing their experiences. This increased awareness is driving a societal shift, opening the market for products and services that previously may have been taboo.
From AI and machine learning to wearable devices and telehealth, technology enables novel approaches to menopause management. This enables the development of personalized, data-driven solutions.
Destigmatization of Women’s Health
The broader trend towards prioritization of women’s health and wellness — particularly in areas previously considered niche or taboo like menopause — is driving interest and investment in the space.
Although menopause has been a part of women’s lived experience for literally millennia, only now are the conditions aligning for its leap into mainstream discourse and consciousness. Societal shifts and technological advancements have created a favorable environment for the growth of menopause-focused startups.
A new generation of entrepreneurs is stepping up to tackle the unmet needs of women going through menopause, creating opportunities in this emerging market poised for growth. In order to build and grow, these entrepreneurs need funding and support from the VC community. Sadly — although it’s starting to change — femtech startups remain underfunded and entrepreneurs in the space still struggle with bias and stigma when raising funds, which is a missed opportunity for everyone.
Given adequate resources, the menopause space has the potential to bring about a new wave of startups whose solutions could benefit millions of women worldwide and generate outsized returns for those with the conviction to invest sooner rather than later.
If ever there was a time to seize the opportunity and drive the change in the menopause space, it is now. Investors, your LPs will thank you later.