Investment Opportunities in Women and Family Healthcare Soar as Gender Bias Persists in Healthcare

by Ella

Astonishing gender bias in clinical research and healthcare provision persists as women are often excluded or underserved in various healthcare settings. A recent study by Aston University underscores this issue, highlighting that in 1977, the FDA prohibited most women of “childbearing potential” from participating in clinical research, a policy that wasn’t rescinded until 16 years later. It wasn’t until the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993 that legislation mandated the inclusion of women in clinical trials, yet disparities remain, with no obligatory differentiation of clinical results based on gender.


Moreover, societal and cultural norms have contributed to the stigma surrounding women’s health concerns. Women’s issues, particularly regarding topics such as menstruation, menopause, and pelvic floor dysfunction, are often considered taboo, discussed in hushed tones behind closed doors. The crucial need is to provide women with information, support, and empower them to advocate for their health within the healthcare system.


Women’s healthcare is an intricate field with diverse, multifaceted needs that evolve over time, extending beyond reproductive capabilities. To address these evolving needs, it is essential to understand the key stages of womanhood:


The Maiden: Covering puberty and adolescence, ages 12-18.
The Explorer: Encompassing sexual growth and maturation, ages 19-28.
The Nurturer: Focusing on family and reproduction, ages 29-45.
The Warrior: Addressing menopause and middle age, ages 46-64.
The Sage: Dealing with post climacteric years, ages 65+.
Each stage involves distinct therapeutic areas, including reproductive, menstrual, sexual, pelvic floor, vaginal, oncology, bone, brain, autoimmune, and cardiovascular health. Various health needs, such as IVF, contraception, or sexual education, serve unique purposes at specific times within this continuum of care.


At each stage, opportunities arise to enhance women’s health outcomes, including treatments like:

The Maiden: Addressing issues such as menstruation, contraception, STD education, mental health, and HPV vaccination.
The Explorer: Focusing on contraception, fertility education, counseling, early cancer screening, fertility diagnostics, and pelvic floor therapy.
The Nurturer: Covering ovulation tracking, prenatal support, infertility treatment, nutritional guidance, OBGYN services, and lactation consultations.
The Warrior: Managing perimenopause, hormone replacement therapy, cancer screening, and mental health care.
The Sage: Early detection of chronic diseases, nutrition planning, and cardiovascular and osteoporosis prevention.
The Market Opportunity

Although the opportunities within OBGYN and fertility are relatively well-established, substantial whitespace remains to support women throughout their lives. Emerging investment areas include pelvic floor dysfunction, postpartum care, and mid-life care, especially menopause.

Investment in women’s health has experienced a shift, driven by increased awareness and investment in female life stages, improved employer benefits, favorable payor contracting, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite this, investments in women’s health are sometimes considered “niche,” posing challenges to secure funding within traditional venture firms. To counter this, innovative founders are exploring alternate funding sources, including family offices, impact funds, and government programs.

A Bright Future for Women and Family Healthcare

Recent proprietary analysis by Leerink Partners reveals that venture investment in women and family healthcare has surged, peaking in 2021 at over $2.5 billion, well above pre-pandemic levels. Despite recent market volatility, high-quality assets continue to enter the market, closing oversubscribed funding rounds. This trend, unique to the women and family healthcare sector, stands in contrast to the broader digital health landscape.

Importantly, investors are displaying a growing appetite for investments beyond maternity and fertility, channeling funding into areas like sexual, pelvic, and mental health. These developments indicate a promising future for women and family healthcare, breaking down longstanding gender biases and providing comprehensive support for women’s diverse health needs.


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