They’re calling it “the quantified vagina.” Harvard researchers are developing a “smart tampon” equipped with technology to allow women to collect and test their own blood during their periods each month, and to track the data produced by it.
According to a profile in Fast Company, infectious disease experts Ridhi Tariyal and Stephen Gire found in the course of their work that many women’s illnesses were being detected too late, after they had become symptomatic. The pair realized that allowing women to test their own blood samples and monitor their biomarkers at home, with the blood samples naturally produced by their bodies each month, could help detect and prevent diseases like cervical cancer, endometriosis, and uterine fibroids. They launched Next Gen Jane, a startup to develop a smart tampon, and are currently conducting clinical trials, raising seed money, and traveling the country talking to potential customers.
“We have to get to a place where we have working, high-quality tests for enough conditions that it actually makes it worthwhile for women to test themselves every month,” Tariyal, who is the company’s CEO, told Fast Company. “Our vision is to manage reproductive health from menarche to menopause. We’re thinking about all the ways that women could find data about their bodies useful.”
Tariyal said that she had found moments in her own life when she would have wanted control of her own biomarkers. When she was trying to conceive a baby in her early 30s, doctors were hesitant to give her data about her own fertility. She believes that managing one’s reproductive health is fundamental women’s issue these days.
“There’s a sense in which these tests are paternalistic,” Tariyal says. “Women don’t like it when someone tells them when to worry or when not to worry. I wanted that number regardless of whether I was in a relationship or trying to get pregnant. That number belongs to me.”
The company hopes to have a prototype within the next year.
Read the full story at Fast Company.