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Menstrual Pads and Cups That Solidify Blood

The way forward for menstruation could look a bit completely different than as we speak, if a group of scientists in Virginia have something to say about it. They’ve created pads and cups that may solidify menstrual blood quite than merely take in or include it as is. Their innovation ought to scale back leaking and spillage, whereas additionally being environmentally pleasant, the group says.

Researchers on the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State College developed the next-gen menstrual know-how. This group primarily research the intestine microbiome and bacteriophages (bacteria-preying viruses), but in addition have a associated curiosity in biomaterials—substances that may safely work together with our our bodies, both to help, change, and even improve a organic operate. Lab chief Bryan Hsu wished his subsequent challenge to concentrate on one thing that had gotten comparatively little consideration elsewhere, and that’s when he landed on menstruation.

“Menstrual care merchandise have been based mostly on the identical ideas for a extremely very long time: both retention or absorption,” Hsu informed Gizmodo in an electronic mail. “With a lot biotechnological development in different areas of well being, I used to be stunned to study that there was comparatively little development in menstrual care.”

Whereas these present strategies could be advantageous more often than not, a girl’s heavy movement can overwhelm a pad or cup, resulting in leaking. Hsu figured that it will be attainable to counteract this by making the blood itself tougher to spill.

“When formulating the concept in my naïve male thoughts, I imagined myself getting a full cup of water in the course of the evening. I do know that I’d 100% spill the water on the best way again to mattress. However I’m additionally fairly certain I wouldn’t spill a full cup of sand (strong), honey (extremely viscous), or jello (a gel).” he defined. “So we tried to design a product that will gel blood in order that it will be simpler to handle with out spilling.”

© Bataglioli et al/Matter

The group—which does embrace a number of girls—finally settled on utilizing a powder combination of alginate, a polymer derived from seaweed, and glycerol (a naturally occurring alcohol) to do the trick. In experiments simulating menstruation with precise blood, the addition of the powder prevented extra leakage from a pad and rather more spillage from a cup in comparison with their typical counterparts. These elements are additionally biodegradable and already extensively added to different merchandise, together with meals. And if the group’s know-how could make reusable cups extra interesting, it might assist reduce down the sizable quantity of waste produced by disposable tampons and pads. The group’s findings have been published Wednesday within the journal Matter.

This isn’t the primary time that folks have tried to reinvent the menstruation wheel—an endeavor that hasn’t at all times gone easily. The arrival of superabsorbent tampons within the early Eighties inadvertently sparked outbreaks of poisonous shock syndrome, a life-threatening situation brought on by the overgrowth of sure toxin-producing strains of micro organism, significantly Staphylococcus aureus. Fortunately, the short recall of those merchandise and higher recommendation on tampon use finally quelled the terror of toxic shock.

Menstrual-related poisonous shock stays very uncommon as we speak and continues to be predominantly related to tampons, however instances can occur in these utilizing cups and pads as nicely. Since alginate may also be meals for some micro organism, Hsu’s group wished to get forward of issues and proactively decrease the chance of poisonous shock, however with out doubtlessly harming the pure vaginal microbiome. 

“We added a cationic polysaccharide to our formulation that will entangle itself into our materials and reduce leaching away from the fabric,” Hsu mentioned. “We discovered that it didn’t impair the gelling operate when blended with blood, but in addition decreased the expansion of S. aureus within the materials.”

Regardless of the group’s revolutionary method to solidify menstrual blood, their product continues to be a good distance from being accessible on the cabinets of your native pharmacy. The group should clearly present that its creation can meet the regulatory requirements of different FDA-approved menstrual merchandise, together with security. They’ll additionally need to be sure that it may be scaled up whereas nonetheless remaining inexpensive. However the group is unquestionably hoping to develop their tech commercially, and so they’re already waiting for different iterations of it.

“We’re additionally engaged on a tampon sort of formulation and are aiming for different purposes in girls’s well being that we predict can have a excessive influence on high quality of life,” Hsu mentioned.

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