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Interview: Sarah Bolt, founder of health tech start-up Forth

Peter Evans
Authored by Peter Evans
Posted: Tuesday, June 8, 2021 - 12:16

A health tech firm with roots in the South West has launched a first-of-its-kind product designed to improve wellbeing by giving women greater understanding of their hormone cycles.

Forth, which is based just over the Severn Bridge in Wales, but was founded in Bristol, has developed its Female Hormone Mapping product to give women insights into how their personal hormones fluctuate over their entire menstrual cycle.

The system uses a combination of artificial intelligence, blood analysis and clinical expertise to give users in-depth, personal hormone mapping detail and provide answers to female hormone specific issues such as perimenopause and menopause.

“I was aware of the inequality in female health and wanted to do something about it,” Forth’s founder, Sarah Bolt, told SWTD. “We wanted to combine all our expertise to design a product that helps women better understand their hormones.”

Bolt said one of the inspirations for starting Forth was wearable technology such as the Fitbit. “I asked how I could do this and give people a real insight into their health. We wanted to apply AI to develop a product that hones in on female specific issues.”  

Female Hormone Mapping combines specialist endocrinology expertise with machine learning techniques to ‘map’ out how each of the key hormones fluctuates over the entire menstrual cycle. This is then compared to the expected average for their cycle length with detailed explanation and an action plan provided by Forth Chief Medical Officer and endocrinology specialist, Dr Nicky Keay.

According to Forth, female hormone health is too frequently only looked at in the context of fertility, and not a woman’s overall wellbeing. This, together with the systemic under-researching of female hormones and women’s health issues, has resulted in many women suffering unnecessarily due to hormone controlled conditions such as endometriosis, amenorrhea and perimenopause.

Forth has previously developed its own home test kits combined with a digital results dashboard which help people to track improvements in their health. The easy-to-use pinprick blood test is analysed by a UKAS accredited lab within 48 hours of being received.  After being reviewed by a team of healthcare experts, results are sent to the users personalised dashboard via the web browser or direct to the app.

Forth has also developed biomarker profiles, beyond vitamin testing, with specific products to male and female hormonal health including peri-menopause and post-menopause, an area where women are currently receiving little support, as well as sport specific testing.

In 2019, Forth won Welsh Innovation of the Year award at the Welsh SME Business Awards. In 2019, it received equity funding from the Development Bank of Wales. The business is also a member of SETsquared, the business incubator.

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