Nov 23, 2022 - Health

The growing menopause-at-work market

Illustrated collage of an older woman with calendars and various shapes behind her

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Menopause — a condition that's little discussed and poorly understood — is gaining more attention from employers rethinking the health benefits they offer women.

Why it matters: Support for workers experiencing telltale symptoms like hot flashes, fatigue and mood swings is becoming more essential after the pandemic and its economic shockwaves led a disproportionate number of women to exit the workforce.

  • It dovetails with a reassessment of reproductive health benefits for younger workers prompted by the demise of Roe v. Wade.
  • But it could bring tough decisions about covering treatments for hormonal changes, bone density, heart health and other symptoms associated with menopausal transition.

"These are your senior leaders, your executives. You want to retain these women and there's no reason they shouldn't have basic access to health care," said Tammy Sun, CEO of Carrot Fertility, a women's health company that rolled out menopause services on its platform earlier this year.

By the numbers: The global menopause market is expected to reach $24.4 billion by 2030, up from $15.4 billion in 2021, per a report earlier this month from Grand View Research.

  • About 27 million people, or nearly 20% of the workforce in the U.S., experience menopause, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.
  • As many as 40% say their symptoms interfered with their work performance or productivity on a weekly basis and nearly one in five have quit or considered quitting because of their symptoms, per a survey from Fast Company.
  • Worldwide, menopause-related productivity losses can top $150 billion a year, Bloomberg reported, citing healthcare and life sciences at consulting firm Frost & Sullivan.

The big picture: In Australia, some of the nation's largest unions said this week they are pushing for employers to offer menstrual and menopause leave.

  • A growing number of companies in Europe have begun introducing menopause policies, CNN reported last month.
  • In the U.S. and around the world, employers are only beginning to understand the value of such offerings, said Marta Cardeano, general manager for Bloom, which offers a motion sensor-based technology to address and relieve pelvic pain for women, which can occur during menopause.
  • “This is not only a cost problem, it’s also a benefit parity problem, it’s also ‘are you supporting your diverse population?’” Cardeano said.

State of play: A growing number of companies, including Carrot, are gaining traction in the menopause market.

  • Earlier this month, the venture capital arm of Northwell Health announced it would launch a virtual care company offering services to manage menopause symptoms with Aegis Ventures, MHealthIntelligence wrote.
  • Virtual care provider Maven Clinic, which just raised $90 million, said it’s planning to expand its menopause health offerings.
  • Earlier this year, Evernow, which provides virtual menopause treatment including access to hormone therapies, raised a $28.5 million investment round with help from the so-called “First Circle” including actresses like Gwyneth Paltrow, and Drew Barrymore, Fierce Healthcare reported.
  • And Sword Health, which had its own $163 million funding round last year, launched Bloom in March.

What they're saying: "You're talking about a really big impact. Like 74% of women have prolapse and you have like 43% who leak urine. It's very aggravating in that time of life," Cardeano said. "Consumers started to realize — and employers, as a consequence — that this was a very unexplored part of their life. There were no solutions out there to help."

Yes, but: Even with the growth in startups, there's a vacuum in managing the condition, researchers wrote in The Cancer Journal in May.

  • In September, Reps. David McKinley (R-W. Va.) and Cindy Axne (D-Iowa) introduced the “Menopause Research Act” which would put $100 million into the National Institutes of Health in 2023 and 2024 to research treatments.
  • “Only 5% of femtech startups address menopause, and overall the opportunity is huge,” Adrianna Samaniego, an investor with Female Founders Fund, told Crunchbase News last year. “Fertility is nine months, typically, but menopause can last anywhere from four to 30 years.”
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