Taboo Health Insights

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Taboo Health Insights

Key Takeaways

  • Established companies or corporations providing innovative solutions or offering an interesting proposition in the taboo health space include Unified Health, Pfizer, Path, Reckitt Benckiser, and Bayer.
  • Some well-funded and disruptive startups in the 'taboo health' space include Renovia, Celmatix, Pill Club, Numan, and Ibex.
  • Trends surrounding the 'taboo health' space include the increased popularity of sexual wellness startups and growing efforts to make sexual healthcare more accessible and available online.


Insights on emerging trends surrounding the 'taboo health' space, a list of 20 well-funded and disruptive startups, and five examples of established companies/corporations providing innovative solutions or offering an interesting proposition in the taboo health space have been provided below.

1) Unified Women’s Healthcare

  • Unified Health is a healthcare company with over 5,000 employees and is focused on providing innovative solutions to women's healthcare needs.
  • The company's strategy involves acquiring companies with an innovative solution that helps them further their goal.
  • Unified Women Healthcare recently acquired Lucina Analytics, a company that "uses analytical insights and advanced algorithms to identify and engage women who may be at risk for adverse outcomes during pregnancy."
  • Premature birth is a leading cause of death for babies in the US. Unified Women Healthcare's innovative solution aims to increase gestational age incrementally for almost every child born in each state in the US.

2) Path

  • Path is a global non-profit that is focused on eliminating health inequities by bringing together institutions, investors, businesses, and individuals to solve the world’s most pressing health challenges. The organization was founded in 1977 and has over 1,600 employees.
  • Path has developed microarray patch (MAP) technology, an easy-to-use, discreet drug delivery system, and is currently assessing its use and acceptance "in a pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) drug to prevent HIV infection, and 2) hormonal contraception to prevent pregnancy."

3) Pfizer

  • Pfizer is a multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology corporation and is one of the biggest players in the erectile dysfunction market.
  • In 2020, Pfizer announced an interesting partnership with Roman, a digital men’s health clinic. The partnership will provide Roman members with erectile dysfunction treatment backed by Pfizer’s quality manufacturing standards and supply chain excellence.
  • The interesting arrangement with the telemedicine company will help Pfizer fight the counterfeiting of Viagra.
  • Pfizer has also partnered with Myovant Sciences to evaluate the contraceptive efficacy of once-daily relugolix combination tablet that will help women with uterine fibroids and endometriosis to "simultaneously manage their symptoms and their reproductive choices including prevention of pregnancy."

4) Bayer

  • Bayer is a German multinational pharmaceutical and life sciences corporation. The company is one of the largest pharmaceutical companies globally.
  • Bayer has partnered with U.S. biotech company Daré Bioscience to develop "a hormone-free monthly contraceptive. The device is a ring that is inserted into the vagina, providing contraception over three weeks without any action required by the user around the time of intercourse."

5) Reckitt Benckiser

  • Reckitt Benckiser is a multinational consumer goods corporation that produces health, nutrition, and hygiene products.
  • Reckitt Benckiser recently acquired Queen V, a feminine sexual wellness brand established in the US and focused on vaginal health, as part of its commitment to investing in innovative sexual health products.
  • Queen V's goal is to make vaginal health more easily accessible and empowering.

Well-funded and Disruptive Startups in the Taboo Health Space

1) Aspivix

  • Aspivix is a startup that has developed an innovative alternative to the cervical tenaculum used by gynecologists called Carevix.
  • The cervical tenaculum causes pain and bleeding to 80 million women annually.
  • Aspivix's Carevix is a "vacuum suction-based device that engages the cervix and facilitates the entry into the uterus without any trauma to the tissue."
  • Aspivix was founded in 2015 and has raised $7.6 million.

2) MFB Fertility

  • MFB Fertility is a startup that manufactures Proov, an at-home female fertility testing kit.
  • Proov is an is easy to use product and delivers accurate results within 5 minutes. The product is tailored to help women who increasingly give birth at the later stages of their life to do so more easily.
  • MFB Fertility was founded in 2018 and has raised $9.7 million to date.

3) Vault Health

  • Vault Health is a telemedicine company that leverages diagnostics and technology infrastructure to provide men with medically supervised, in-home medical services for conditions they consider embarrassing, such as hormonal imbalance and erectile dysfunction.
  • Vault Health was founded in 2018 and has raised $30 million.

4) Mojo

  • Mojo is a men's sexual wellbeing solution provider specializing in psychological and sexual issues, such as erectile dysfunction.
  • Mojo provides "on-tap access to dedicated therapies — partnering with professional psychosexual therapists to provide online courses that are billed as offering a longer-term solution to male sexual health problems versus just popping some blue pills."
  • Mojo was founded in 2019 and has raised $4.4 million.

5) Numan

  • Numan is a digital healthcare startup that is focused on tackling erectile dysfunction issues.
  • Numan was founded in 2018 and has raised $52.9 million.

6) Ibex

  • Ibex provides AI-driven clinical decision support tools that help pathologists deliver more efficient and objective cancer diagnoses.
  • The company's solution is very useful in prostate cancer diagnosis and was able to detect misdiagnosed prostate biopsies when tested in a hospital.
  • Ibex was founded in 2016 and has raised $51.6 million.

7) Nucleai Ltd

  • Nucleai Ltd develops software solution that uses machine learning algorithms and computer vision to detect signs of prostate cancer and gastrointestinal diseases.
  • Nucleai was founded in 2017 and has raised $13.5 million.

8) Butterfly Medical

  • Butterfly Medical developed an innovative device for the treatment of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH).
  • The device is an implantable device that is "inserted by cystoscopy and dilates the prostate urethra, enabling doctors to treat and operate prostate enlargements without making surgical incisions."

9) Cirqle Biomedical

10) Ash Wellness Inc

  • Ash is a sexual wellness company that has developed an end-to-end platform solution that enables remote diagnosis in order to destigmatize and simplify the testing process.
  • Ash was founded in 2019 and has raised $3.4 million.

11) Maude

12) Found

13) Calibrate

  • Calibrate is an innovative weight loss startup that is based on a metabolic reset for improved metabolic health and a more sustained weight loss.
  • Calibrate was founded in 2020 and has raised $127.6 million in funding.

14) Meru Health

  • Meru Health is a digital mental health company that combines science, human support, and technology to help people deal with mental health issues and create long-lasting, healthy lifestyle habits.
  • Meru Health was founded in 2016 and has raised $51.3 million.

15) Vivoo

16) Future Family

  • Future Family is a company focused on making fertility care affordable and accessible.
  • The company offers loans/financing for IVF and egg freezing, making it easy for patients to start fertility treatments quickly.
  • Future Family was founded in 2016 and has raised $123.2 million.

17) Celmatix

18) Nurx

  • Nurx is a digital healthcare company that enables at-home STI testing and makes treatment for genital and oral herpes and emergency contraception easily accessible.
  • Nurx was founded in 2015 and has raised $115.9 million.

19) Pill Club

20) Renovia

  • Renovia provides a digital therapeutic and first-line diagnostic device for millions of women with pelvic floor disorder.
  • The company was founded in 2016 and has raised $72.3 million.

Taboo Health Trends

Sexual Wellness Startups Are Gaining More Attention

  • Sexual wellness has been increasingly gaining attention from investors after years of being stigmatized and minimal investors' interest.
  • The trend is evidenced by the fact that the global sexual wellness market is expected to grow with a CAGR of 6.6% between 2021 and 2028.
  • The increased interest and investment in sexual wellness are being driven by its integration as part of a more holistic care model.
  • According to CB Insights, the integration of sexual wellness as part of a more holistic care model "aligns with the broader trend towards a more integrated approach to preventative health."
  • The trend is also being driven by a change in perception towards the use of sexual wellness products, the increasing burden of sexually transmitted diseases and government efforts to raise awareness and promote safe sex, and research and development activity to develop advanced sexual wellness products.
  • Maude and Rosy are examples of companies that are benefiting from the trend of increased investment in the space.

Digital Therapies and Accessibility

  • A key trend in the taboo health space is the concerted effort to destigmatize the space and make sexual healthcare easily accessible.
  • Telehealth is increasingly becoming one of the key ways startups and established companies are exploiting to offer people increased access to excellent sexual healthcare.
  • This trend is driven by the diffusion of mobile technology and rapid advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence. Digital communication channels enable personalized service and privacy.
  • According to industry experts, the trend is also driven by new innovations in sexual health that have made previously hard-to-get solutions easily accessible.
  • For instance, "sexual wellness solutions like Milli, a vaginal dilator to help treat relieve the symptoms of vaginismus, are taking products traditionally only offered by doctors and giving people the power to choose their treatments."
  • Companies at the forefront of this trend include Numan, Meru Health, and Maude.

Research Strategy

Our research team relied on industry publications, press releases, academic studies, media reports, and market research reports to provide taboo health insights requested. We generally selected disruptive startups in the 'taboo health' space with over $1 million in fundings. This was because top disruptive startups in niche segments such as sexual wellness tend to have lower fundings compared to those in broader segments such as weight loss. Hence, what represents a "well-funded" startup varies greatly depending on the segment.

For established companies, we focused on more recent innovations or propositions, including those that recently acquired an innovative startup in other to adopt the innovative offerings previously offered by the startups.

To understand emerging trends surrounding the 'taboo health' space, we analyzed a number of industry reports and selected trends that appeared in at least two independent reports.

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