Ridhi Tariyal, an Indian-American entrepreneur, and Stephen Gire, a scientist, were shocked to learn about a large number of women’s health issues that go undetected for a long period of time. They had met in an infectious disease lab at Harvard and had been working together for a long time.
Over the years, and through experiences, they realised that unless a woman is going for check-ups at regular and short intervals, it is usually very late by the time a disease is detected in her annual test.
With technology, doctors can track various aspects of women’s reproductive health, but the problem is that many women come go for tests only when they face some issues – like trouble in getting pregnant, pain, etc.
So the two Harvard-trained researchers designed a new system to help women take charge of their own reproductive health and test themselves in the comfort of their homes – a smart tampon system to detect the warning signs in menstrual blood. The tampon, which is presently in the early phases of testing, has been designed to collect the blood sample and use technology to test for a range of biomarkers. The collected information is then sent to a database that women can use to track their reproductive health over time.
This will help in the early detection and treatment of diseases like endometriosis, cervical cancer, polycystic ovarian syndrome, uterine fibroids, etc. and will help check for cysts, infections, and STDs.
Picture for representation only. Source: Twitter
It could also allow women to track their anti-mullerium hormone levels, so they have access to data points when they are thinking about family planning and want to know about their fertility.
“We had to come up with something that would allow women to find out about these conditions sooner than every year,” Ridhi told Fast Company.
The duo launched a start-up named NextGen Jane in 2014 to begin working on smart tampons. Currently, they are trying to reach a point when they will have enough high-quality tests so women can test themselves every month. The company is in the midst of clinical trials for endometriosis, among many others that the smart tampon will ultimately detect.
“We believe that women have the capacity to understand these tests…Women who are data-forward want to be empowered to track their own health at a granular level,” says Ridhi.
It could be a while before the technology comes to the market, as it will require the development of a variety of tests. But according to NextGen Jane’s website, the team hopes to have a working prototype completed in the next year or so.