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Femtech: how should law and regulation respond?

This research project is motivated by the concern that law and regulation fail to adequately protect users of ‘femtech’.

person in white long sleeve shirt holding a black smartphone

‘Femtech’ and the process of becoming a 'better' woman: how should law and regulation respond to health technologies targeted at improving women’s health and well-being?

‘Femtech’ is a term that applies to digital technologies, including products, and services that focus on women’s health. While this term was coined to convey a positive technological development for women, the market is now saturated with devices for personal use aimed at tracking and improving women’s biological processes, including fertility, breastfeeding and sexual pleasure. This flourishing market is filled with promises of increased knowledge and control over one’s body and is often presented through pastel pink colour themes and ‘feminine’ motifs such as flowers and hearts. Yet it sits against a darker backdrop of the ever-present risk of stigmatisation and control of women’s bodies.

The mobile applications attached to most femtech technologies store, analyse and report on the user’s health status in various ways. Users are often prompted to input personal information: from more simple facts like name and age to more complex and private matters like occasions of intimacy. The data collected via these apps has powerful potential to reveal important findings about women’s health. However, the collection of intimate information raises concerns over privacy and other interests such as autonomy and identity. Apps that aid to be able to act as stand-alone contraception (i.e. ‘digital contraceptives’) are increasingly popular, yet studies have shown that the evidence base for many of these apps is of poor quality and more likely to result in unintended pregnancy than ‘standard’ contraceptives.

Despite its proliferation, femtech has been met with little legal or ethical scrutiny. This research suggests that - if women are to continue to be marketed technologies which aim at improving their bodies and biological processes (e.g. fertility and sexual pleasure) - then we need a framework that adequately reflects their needs and priorities as Femtech's users.

This project is led by Dr Catriona McMillan and funded by the British Academy.

Journal articles

Catriona McMillan, 'Rethinking the regulation of digital contraception under the medical devices regime’, Medical Law International (online first) (2023) View article

Catriona McMillan, ‘Monitoring Female Fertility Through ‘Femtech’: The Need for a Whole-System Approach to Regulation’, Medical Law Review (2022) fwac006. View article 

Opinion pieces

Catriona McMillan, ‘Roe v Wade Overturned: data protection under threat.’ View opinion piece 


‘Monitoring female fertility through femtech: how should law and regulation respond?’ Socio-Legal Studies Association Annual Conference 2022, University of York.

‘Feminism Means Reproductive Justice’, University of Edinburgh Feminist Society, April 2022, University of Edinburgh.

‘Femtech and the monitoring of female fertility’, World Congress of Bioethics 2022, University of Basel.