About 6,000 women in the U.S. reach menopause every day, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. That’s a lot. And it’s just the number in the U.S. Yet, despite a boom in femtech, there hasn’t been much technology developed targeting women experiencing this phase of life, which can go on for years.
That gap is what Arfa Rehman and Scott Gorman are trying to address with Caria, an app for helping women learn about and manage more than 40 physical and emotional menopause symptoms.
“As we did our research, it was a no-brainer for me that this problem needed to be solved,” says Rehman.
Lack of Innovation
She and Gorman met while they were at Oxford University during graduate work focusing on tech products for neurocognitive disorders. During their research, they made what Rehman calls an “eye-opening” discovery: Perimenopause and menopause are biomarkers for many chronic health conditions for women in later life, like cognitive and cardiovascular changes. “It’s a very complex and important transition for women,” she says.
But when they looked into it further, they were surprised to find a lack of innovation and research targeting the issue, as well as the various trying symptoms accompanying menopause, like hot flashes and insomnia. Then after speaking to hundreds of women, they became convinced there needed to be new technology developed that addressed these health problems. Their research revealed that 80% of women said their symptoms affected their daily lives. And one in four were considering leaving their jobs because they weren’t able to manage their symptoms.
What was available included drug-based approaches, like hormone therapy, and a variety of supplements, an unregulated market that Rehman describes as a “Wild West” situation. What was utterly lacking was a tech product that could help women figure out if their problems were, indeed, caused by menopause, since there’s no diagnostic test to discern that, as well as what they should do, based on their profile and health conditions, to manage their symptoms.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Because menopause touches so many aspects of women’s health, Rehman and Gorman realized they needed an approach combining psychological, emotional, and physical health. To that end, Caria combines self-guided cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques with nutritional science and physical exercise. According to Rehman, delivering that through an app is a novel approach, since CBT usually is done in person (and can be quite costly).
Women chat with an AI-based digital assistant about their health history and symptoms to pinpoint what stage of menopause they’re in and provide recommendations for treatment. Usually, it takes about four years and $20,000 for most women to get to that point, according to Rehman.
Then, once women know what treatment is right for them, they can follow the platform’s program to reduce the severity of symptoms. There’s also a health tracker for monitoring symptoms. If they change, as they often do, the recommendations are updated. And the platform has a community through which women can trade help and support.
Free and Premium Versions
Rehman and Gorman formed the company in 2019 and launched a beta version of the app in 2020. It’s now used by more than 50,000 women, according to Rehman. Venture backing has come from Antler, Serena Ventures, Bayer, and others; Rehman didn’t disclose the amount she’s raised.
Some features, like the ability to receive an assessment or some access to a limited amount of nutritional advice, are free. A premium version, introduced about two months ago, offers more in-depth treatment. The company also is considering other distribution routes. For example, Rehman and Gorman recently formed a partnership with Bayer Pharmaceuticals to look into commercial applications, like pairing Caria with menopause-related medication.
Source by www.forbes.com