A small number of startups are stepping up to address infertility issues in Japan, where shortages of treatment options plague patients in a country grappling with one of the world’s lowest birthrates.

Yukiko Nakai, one such entrepreneur, spent hours in packed infertility clinics, counting the inefficiencies that exacerbated already long wait times. She soon ran out of her vacation days at work. Her take-home salary fell, while her out-of-pocket medical bills climbed to around ¥10 million ($66,000).

"I was so frustrated, and that feeling was made worse by the uncertainty about whether the treatment would succeed,” said Nakai, who had always dreamed of a large family. After leaving her managerial role at Yahoo Japan, she founded Arch in 2021, an app developer that helps women’s clinics cut patients’ wait times through digitalization. "The knowledge that you can never regain each moment that passes adds to the stress.”