Riding the red wave just got a lot more interesting

3 minute read

Aunty Flo might have stories to tell, other than ‘not pregnant’.

That’s it, stick a fork in me, I’m done. I’ve heard it all. No need to learn anything else.

A US biotech company called Qvin – apparently it’s from the Danish for “women” – has announced that it has received FDA clearance for its trademarked Q-Pad and A1c test.

Qvin’s corporate logo, by the way, is “Empowering women. Period.” I kid you not.

Qvin claims to be giving women autonomy over their health. Ironic in a country where it’s now illegal in some states – looking at you, Texas – to have an abortion. But I digress.

How is it planning on doing this? Making menstrual blood easily collectable for testing for a range of health indicators.

I know what you’re thinking. We’ve all got those ingrained ick-factor-slash-taboo-slash-stigma thoughts welling up in us right now, courtesy of our mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers.

We all remember those do-you-want-the-good-news-or-the-bad-news moments in our prepubertal lives when we were sat down and given the facts. The bad news? You’re going to bleed for up to a week, every month, for the NEXT 50 YEARS. And you’ll probably make a mess, smell and nobody will want to have sex with you at that time. The good news? You’re a woman, now. Isn’t that great?

Qvin is doing its bit to cancel out those stereotypes about menstrual blood – that it’s waste material, for example – by making a sanitary pad that samples the blood and makes it possible to send that sample off to a pathology lab for testing.

The Q-Pad bypasses invasive blood tests that have to be administered by a medical professional, says Qvin. A removable collection strip embedded in the cotton pad can be removed and sent off for analysis. Users receive their results via the free Qvin app.

This, the company claims, is the first time menstrual samples have been explored as a diagnostic source for health information.

“Not everyone has the time, access, and financial means to get laboratory results for blood work, however, billions of people globally have their period every single month,” said the Qvin announcement.

“Qvin proved the clinical relevancy of menstrual blood for a number of important biomarkers. Now, for the first time, menstrual blood can be used to provide insights for people with the Q-Pad and A1c Test, from the convenience of their own home.”

Blood sugar levels are the obvious target of Q-Pad, but according to the company the menstrual blood samples can also be tested for biomarkers for pre-diabetes, anaemia, fertility, perimenopause, endometriosis, and thyroid health.

“Women seeking to understand their fertility status can soon monitor various reproductive hormones via menstrual blood using the Q-Pad,” said Dr Paul Blumenthal, a professor emeritus of ob/gyn at Stanford.

“In addition, published research indicates that the Q-Pad could be a convenient, user-friendly and efficient way of screening for the human papilloma virus as part of global cervical cancer prevention efforts.”

Bonza. All we need now is for Qvin to look further afield than California – they’re already selling to Thailand, apparently – and for the TGA to step into the 21st century.

A digital tampon would be pretty cool too. And flowery packaging. Job done.

Send self-collected story samples to penny@medicalrepublic.com.au for assessment.

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