Women’s Health Screenings Could Now Be As Easy As Using A Tampon

Reuters/Stefan Wermuth

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Eric Lieberman Deputy Editor

A new startup called NextGen Jane is looking to alter health screenings for women across the world by creating a tampon that doubles as a health screening tool.

In 2013, Ridhi Tariyal, an entrepreneur, and Stephen Gire, a scientist, teamed up to form NextGen Jane, a startup with the goal of developing a new way of tracking and analyzing women’s health. Together they are striving to use blood sampling, one of the most traditional means of health examination, to evaluate women’s reproductive health.

Gire and Tariyal have developed an operational prototype for a “smart tampon.” When brainstorming, Tariyal knew that they would need a certain amount of blood for proper detection and diagnosis to occur. So why let the blood from a natural occurring process like menstruation just go to waste? Tariyal identified this squandered opportunity and soon realized that a tampon could have dual uses; a health screening mechanism as well as a cleanup tool.

Many women do not frequent OBGYNs because of lack of free time, insufficient financial resources, or inadequate health insurance. Most stick to their annual checkups or skip it all together. But if women everywhere could test themselves during a natural, monthly bodily function then hard to detect conditions and diseases could be discovered more often.

Sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea and chlamydia often go unnoticed for females because the symptoms may not always transpire. Serious conditions like Endometriosis are asymptomatic for some people. While Endometriosis is ostensibly most common for women in their 30s and 40s, it affects an estimated five million American women of all ages since many women do not know they had it for quite some time. Celebrities Padma Lakshmi and Lena Dunham are just two noteworthy people that suffered excruciating pain for years, but did not have the proper data and information to know what to do about it until recently.

But not only do these diseases and conditions directly affect women’s current health, they also can affect their ability to procreate in the future. STDs like chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause infertility if left untreated, but if they are caught earlier on they can be easily treated by antibiotics.

That’s where Tariyal and Gire come in. They see so many of these diseases and disorders as an easy fix, but people need to know if they need to be fixed. That’s where a “smart tampon” comes into play. The tampon would have a pre-installed biomarker that can trace and analyze menstrual blood. Women will then be granted further access to their own personal information.

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