This smart tampon could test you for STDs and cervical cancer
We think we speak for all people who get periods when we say we’d be a lot happier dealing with our time of the month if we knew it was keeping us healthy. A new “smart tampon” designed by Harvard scientists hopes to do just that. TeenVogue.com reports that NextGen Jane founders Ridhi Tariyal and Stephen Gire discovered that the blood and cells collected by tampons and other menstrual products could be used to diagnose health problems, so why not kill two birds with one stone?
While it’s still in development, the scientists hope that the tampon could help diagnose things like endometriosis, cervical cancer, and fertility, as well as encourage women to be proactive about their health. According to Fast Company, the founders hope that this tampon of the future would diagnose diseases sooner, rather than patients finding out at their yearly pap smear, which means the condition could have been there for up to a year.
However, that’s not to say a smart tampon will replace those yearly visits. “It’s a really empowering way for people to feel in control and do self-collecting at home,” Dr. Harbatkin, executive and medical director of Lyon-Martin Health Services, told Bitch magazine. “But there needs to be an educational program that goes with it. [It should state] who should be getting tests and what the tests mean.”
There are also some caveats. Dr. Harbatkin explained that the tampon would not work for transgender men on hormones, and those who are nonbinary — meaning, they identify as neither male nor female — might feel uncomfortable using a product like this for their genitals. There’s also the cost to consider, since tampons alone are already expensive, a fancy tampon that saves lives is bound to be even pricier.
All things considered, however, this is still an awesome idea, and the researchers are taking these problems into account as they move forward with development. We just want people to be healthy and happy, and it sounds like this tampon of the future could do the trick.