Startup Tia moving into fertility services as part of integrated women's health care

Women's health startup Tia is expanding its integrated care model to include fertility services, with a continued focus on preventive care and mental health support.

Fertility tech has become a booming market driven by tailwinds such as demographic shifts in the workforce and rising rates of infertility. Analysts expect the fertility treatment industry to reach $41 billion by 2026, fueled, in part, by the fact that 1 in 8 couples have trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

But Tia is taking a different approach than many other startups. The company is focused on fertility services as part of comprehensive women’s health care, grounding the service in its care model that fuses primary care, gynecology and mental health and wellness.

By design, the company doesn’t offer services like egg freezing or sperm testing, which allows Tia to provide objective advice without the financial incentive, according to Carolyn Witte, CEO and co-founder of Tia.

"If you look at the fertility space broadly, the focal areas are on specialty services targeted around infertility or preservation, with egg freezing on the preservation side and services like IVF and more complex care on the infertility side," she told Fierce Healthcare. "These are critically important services that are needed for a subset of the population. But I've seen a huge amount of what I would call fear-mongering tactics deployed, playing to women's fears around infertility in particular. And there's an 'upsell-type model' that's about getting women to invest in certain services, more from a place of fear, perhaps even more sometimes than from a place of science or need."

Tia, which launched in 2017, is building what it calls a "modern medical home for women" that offers connected, whole-person care integrating physical, mental and reproductive health, Witte said.

"In thinking about how to deepen our care model, particularly in our current political climate around women's health, we decided to start from a place of, 'Let's not make an assumption that every woman wants to become pregnant or be a mom.' We thought about how we might anchor the choice around fertility and put the woman in the driver's seat and help her define what her goals are, whether that means trying to become a parent now, never or someday," she said.

Witte added, "We designed a care model that is focused on giving women a specific tool without the 'upsell' and without the fear-mongering tactics."

Tia’s model includes virtual and in-person services, fusing primary care, mental health and gynecological care with wellness services like acupuncture and pelvic floor physical therapy in one integrated experience. The company is now in four markets—New York City, Los Angeles, Phoenix and San Francisco—and is on a path to serving 100,000 women nationwide by the end of 2023. 

As part of the new service line, Tia will offer fertility assessments for patients who want to plan for the future with testing and unbiased counseling on options like egg freezing.

When patients do need services like egg freezing, Tia provides referrals to trusted, high-quality specialists, according to executives.

The company also will provide prevention-focused care for those with common chronic conditions such as endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Tia plans to offer information and care to help its patients treat these conditions with comprehensive primary care, including lifestyle changes, supplements and medication management.

As part of the service, patients trying to conceive will be offered support, including a comprehensive review of a patient’s current health and a personalized care plan that may include modifications to medications or supplements as well as specialized mental health and wellness services such as one-on-one therapy, support groups focused on infertility or miscarriage, provider-led workshops and acupuncture for fertility. Tia also provides well-coordinated care and referrals for more advanced services like IVF or IUI to local provider partners, including UCSF Health.
Women have long been sidelined by a healthcare system that treats them as body parts or narrow reproductive life stages instead of whole people, according to Tia executives. This has led to major primary care gaps for women on their fertility journey, leaving many without prevention-focused care or mental health support. For example, common chronic conditions specific to women, such as PCOS or endometriosis, are also leading causes of infertility and are often not diagnosed or treated until women have difficulty getting pregnant.
“As we look toward a post-Roe America, women’s fertility choices have taken on a whole new meaning,” Witte said. “Like abortion, we believe that fertility care is healthcare, period, and an integral part of women’s comprehensive primary care. We need to reimagine fertility care as part of integrated women’s physical, mental, and reproductive healthcare, no matter the journey. Tia supports all choices that women make to become a parent, or not, on their own terms.” 

Tia has grown rapidly over the last year and recently inked its second major health system collaboration with UCSF Health in San Francisco. The startup opened its flagship San Francisco clinic, the first in the Bay Area, at the historic 1500 Mission building. UCSF Health plans to collaborate with Tia to develop a new network of clinically integrated clinics for women in the Bay Area.

Tia also is partnering with CommonSpirit Health, which operates 137 hospitals and more than 1,000 clinics, to launch Tia-branded women's health clinics. The first brick-and-mortar clinic opened in October in Phoenix with planned expansions in Arizona and other CommonSpirit markets over the next few years. 

The company's growth comes as venture capital investment into women's health is soaring. According to Rock Health, women+ health companies raked in $1.4 billion in funding in 2021. Women+ health includes solutions that work within or across the full spectrum of health needs experienced by cisgender women, transgender individuals and nonbinary individuals, according to Rock Health.
As part of the launch of its fertility service, Tia also unveiled a new brand campaign, called “Trying,” highlighting the social pressure on women to become parents.
“From the moment you hit your twenties, women are bombarded with messages about their fertility,” said Deborah Singer, Tia’s senior vice president of brand, marketing and communications. “It’s everywhere—the subtle and not-so-subtle comments, messages, and targeted ads for egg freezing, period tracking, and fertility services that are designed to scare you. Women are more than their egg count, and our fertility should be thought of as part of our whole health and a journey that happens on our terms.”