Using Menstruation for Earlier Health Interventions


A crocheted tampon case. Photo by Towe My (Creative Commons)

I never thought I’d write about tampons, but I now recognize that menstruation and access to feminine hygiene products are critical issues that need to be discussed and de-stigmatized. When a friend sent me an article about a “smart” tampon that is in development, I knew I had to write about it.

In Designing a Tampon that Can Test for Cervical Cancer, I discuss the NextGen Jane project’s efforts to develop a tampon that can test for STIs and cervical cancer using the menstrual fluid it collects. It’s a project that has the potential to revolutionize health care for people with a uterus, but a lot of questions still need to be answered. How will NextGen Jane address health literacy issues? Will it be accessible to people in poverty or the homeless population? Will they develop an alternative for gender non-binary people, transgender men, and women who cannot use tampons? I really enjoyed working on this article because I learned a lot about the barriers to reproductive health care for people with a uterus. The article was published last week, and it was later quoted in Marie Claire and Teen Vogue.

What are your thoughts on home-testing? Would you use a smart tampon to test for medical conditions?


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