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Exclusive: Posterity picks up $6M for male reproductive health

Jul 12, 2022
Illustration of a quarter surrounded by sperm.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Posterity Health, a digital health startup dedicated to male fertility care, collected $6 million in seed funding led by Distributed Ventures, the parties tell Axios exclusively.

Why it matters: Male fertility needs are often overlooked when couples struggle becoming pregnant. Parker, Colorado-based Posterity empowers couples through education and increases access to care.

  • The result? A greater likelihood of either natural conception or via IVF following early intervention and treatment of a male diagnosis, the company says.

Details: Digital health executives joining the funding included Merative CEO Gerry McCarthy, Laurie McGraw, former SVP of Health Solutions at the AMA, and Don Holzworth, entrepreneur and chairman of the Advisory Board at the UNC Gillings School of Public Health.

Zoom in: Male infertility is a contributing factor 50% of the time a couple has difficulty conceiving, but Posterity says males are tested for infertility in less than half of cases.

  • On average, the male partner isn't evaluated until 15 to 18 months into a couple's journey to conceive, CEO Pam Pure tells Axios. "What needs to happen is simultaneous evaluation of both partners at the beginning of that process."

How it works: Posterity offers integrated male fertility testing and treatment, combing virtual visits, at-home diagnostics and in-person consults.

  • Male fertility specialists work directly with ob-gyns, fertility centers and fertility benefit managers.
  • Services include baseline assessments, sperm preservation, semen analysis, pregnancy loss consults, diagnostics workups, vasectomy reversals and gender affirming care.

State of play: With only 200 male fertility specialists nationwide, there's a significant provider shortage and access problem given the geographic concentration around major cities.

  • That structural imbalance is a perfect case for Posterity's virtual-first model, according to Pure and Shawn Ellis, managing partner at Distributed Ventures.

Yes, and: The fast evolution of the reimbursement landscape is poised to drive a "sea change" in fertility care that positions Posterity for growth, Pure says.

  • Starting in 2023, nearly all fertility benefit managers will cover male fertility services, up from just one player with limited coverage 12 months ago, she says.
  • In the employer space, Ellis sees a longer-term opportunity to incorporate a pre-authorization that brings the male side of fertility care into the fold: "There’s a pretty elegant but also fundamental plan design that can be tweaked to ensure that folks are aware of this benefit."

Between the lines: Because male fertility care has never been covered by commercial insurance, there's white space to create a dataset around semen analysis and other male fertility conditions, Ellis and Pure say.

  • By partnering with pharmaceutical companies on clinical trials, Pure says Posterity aims to gain insights that can better drive predictive care.

Flashback: Pure, whose digital health background includes roles at HealthMEDX and McKesson, co-founded Posterity in 2021 alongside her husband Barrett Cowan, a male fertility specialist of 25 years.

  • When COVID-19 hit, they set him up with telehealth: "What was a 10 minute visit in-office in an urology practice turned into 45 minute discussion on telehealth," Pure recalls. "Suddenly people were calling us from different states."
  • Distributed Ventures also has a track record in women's health, with predecessor NFP Ventures an early investor in fertility benefits manager Kindbody.

What's next: The funding will enable Posterity to scale and expand access to care, including by:

  • Building hubs around the country so patients have optional access to in-person supplemental care.
  • Developing a clinical education program and standardized protocols for nurse practitioners and physician assistants.
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