It’s not the first time I’ve inserted a tampon, but it’s the first time I’ve popped one in in between periods, pulled it out 20 minutes later and posted it off to a lab.
So what is the vaginal microbiome screening kit?
But while it looks, feels and acts like a tampon, it isn’t. I’m trialling the new at-home screening kit for the vaginal microbiome from Daye (of CBD tampon fame), to help me better understand my gynaecological health. For £89.95, the test claims to detect the presence of vaginal infections, evaluate your risk of contracting STIs and UTIs and identify if you’ll have issues conceiving or undergoing IVF.
Like most women, my vaginal education thus far has been limited to cervical smears and the odd STI test. But with the vaginal microbiome a key predictor of gynaecological health complications, becoming acquainted with your own can be useful.
So says Valentina Milanova, who, in addition to founding Daye, has a background in biomaterial engineering and nanomedicine – a branch of medicine focusing on using materials and devices for the prevention and treatment of disease.
And what’s the tech?
‘Studies from the 1980s showed that tampons were both more comfortable and more effective at collecting comprehensive samples from the vaginal canal than a standard swab, which covers a much smaller surface area,’ she explains. ‘But, for various reasons, it’s only been brought to patients now.’
And in a rare bit of positive PR for the pandemic, the at-home element has been enabled by PCR technology capacity being expanded in labs.
How does the screening work?
After completing a detailed questionnaire, offering up details such as the heaviness of my bleeds and my vagina’s scent, I insert the tampon, then post it in specially sealed, iced packaging. Days later, I get