Part of the reason conditions like cervical cancer and endometriosis are difficult to treat is because it’s not always easy for women to identify symptoms between annual exams. The longer it takes to notice these conditions, the harder they are to treat. If health issues are asymptomatic, it may take months or even years for a physician to diagnose them.
That’s why the founders of the startup NextGen Jane want to provide women with a tool to monitor their reproductive health regularly from the comfort of their own homes. Ridhi Tariyal and Stephen Gire met at an infectious disease lab at Harvard, where they were alarmed by the number of women’s health issues that go undetected. They realized that women needed a way to perform their own at-home examinations that could identify issues early on in their development.
After doing some initial brainstorming about possible testing procedures, Tariyal realized that a tampon could act as a tool for collecting blood samples. With the addition of the right technology, it could even be used to test for biomarkers that signal certain types of disease. Then, the information could be uploaded to a database where women could track their reproductive health and share test data with their physicians.
NextGen Jane recently closed their first round of seed funding, and their research team has begun conducting clinical trials on the “smart tampon.”
It will likely be a while before the product is available however, as there are still a number of hurdles the team will have to overcome to make the smart tampon a reality. The most significant challenge will likely be coming up with a way to reliably conduct a variety of different tests with one device. If it’s successful, the smart tampon could allow women to be more proactive in their healthcare than ever before.