At Invent Health: innovations in women's health and fertility

Steven Loeb · May 28, 2024 · Short URL:

The panel included Genoscience, Emmeline Ventures, Suncoast Ventures, Wisp, and GENESIS Fertility

Last week, VatorNews held its latest Invent Health event: Invent Health is a salon-styled tech talk and mixer where valuable lessons and insights are shared by investors, tech pioneers and adopters. It is designed to take a 360-degree view of one particular topic. We conduct events in-person and online.

For this event, we looked at women’s health, specifically fertility and menopause.

Infertility is defined as being unable to get pregnant after one year of unprotected sex if women under 35 years of age, or 6 months in women 35 years and older. About 11% of women and 9% of men of childbearing age having infertility issues in the United States and the total fertility rate worldwide has dropped by nearly 1% per year from 1960 to 2018, which is more than 10% per decade and more than 50% over 50 years.

There are a number of reasons why this might be happening, chief among them is that women are having children later, with the median age at which women gave birth in the United States increasing from 27 in 1990 to 30 in 2019. 

So it does come as a surprise that the World Health Organization would state that infertility is a disease". As Bambi Francisco Roizen put it in her opening, calling infertility a disease is "one way to look at an ability that just has a natural time limit. Infertility, in fact and ironically, seems to be the price paid for freedom – freedom to pursue careers or an unencumbered lifestyle until well into our 30’s and 40’s when unfortunately fertility goes over what many know as the fertility cliff."

Fertility has become big business, with the market size in the U.S. alone expected to grow to $8.69 billion by 2033, up from $5.34 billion in 2023. Meanwhile, the global menopause market is even larger, hitting $15.4 billion in 2021 with projections to climb to $24.4 billion by 2030, according to Grand View Research.

What are health plans covering? How are companies innovating? Join us for a 90-minute insightful discussion.

This Invent Health salon was hosted by Dr. Archana Dubey, Chief Medical Officer at UnitedHealthcare and Bambi Francisco Roizen, Founder of Vator. 

Panelists included: Dr. Jean Gekas (CEO, Genoscience); La Keisha Landrum Pierre (Partner, Emmeline Ventures); Dr. Tammy Mahaney (Venture Partner, Suncoast Ventures); Dr. Jillian Lopiano, Chief Health Officer (Wisp, part of Well Health Technologies); Dr. Tendai Chiware (Director of Third Party Reproductive Programs, GENESIS Fertility and Reproductive Medicine)

Highlights from the talk:

Women's health hacks (1:13) - Dr. Dubey asked each panelist to introduce themselves and to share their women's health hacks. Some of the responses included using apps to track cycles; encouraging women to take advantage of this online and telehealth space, and pointing them towards the educational materials that can be found in these spaces; educating women on their fertility window and ovulation for either preventing or attaining pregnancy; and having a plant based diet of adaptogens, microgreens, cacao, and green juices.

The root causes of infertility (16:04) - Maheney talked about how disorders, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome or endometriosis, as well as genetic conditions can cause infertility. There's also side effects from certain types of hormonal birth control that can stop ovulation.

Creating awareness and education (28:52) - Lopiano mentioned about how Wisp talks about contraception to patients and how part of that clinical context should be around when, and if, a patient wants to become pregnant, because the return to fertility and ovulation is different for different types of contraception.

Genetic screenings (36:45) - Gekas talked about how Genoscience will do 5,000 tests a year, and between 5% and 10% will show abnormalities, so the advantages of using these technologies are greater than the consequences to use it. The company has to educate the patients on the limitations of the technologies so they can choose the best test for them. He also mentioned how tests have also gotten safer and less expensive.

Funding fertility (44:53) - Pierre and Maheney talked about innovations that are being pitched to them, and how not enough funding is going into the women's health space, even as the amount is rising.

Technologies for a new generation (1:11:35) - Lopiano talked about how Gen Z and younger women are taking charge and taking control over their fertility and their fertility planning, and how new technologies are becoming really popular among younger women. There's also a concern over where their data is going and who can access it.

Economics of fertility (1:24:25) - Gekas and Dubey talked about the differences between accessing care in the US vs Canada 

Menopause (1:47:23) - The panelists discussed new technologies in the menopause space and how primary care can get a gateway into getting women care for their symptoms.

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