How tampons could be used to diagnose endometriosis

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Over the past decade, research into the diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis has increased exponentially. The condition, which describes when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus is found in other parts of the body, is often linked to chronic, debilitating pain and problems with fertility.

Although it affects about 10% of women and menstruating people worldwide, it still takes an average of seven and a half years to get a definitive diagnosis from a doctor. However, researchers have highlighted how tampons could be used to diagnose endometriosis and other intimate health issues.

Endometriosis is a long-term health problem that can have a monumental impact on your mental well-being and relationships. Campaigners, charities and patients have worked tirelessly to raise the platform for disease and explain how debilitating life with chronic pain can be.

Endometriosis can cause chronic pain because the tissue that looks like the lining of your uterus can grow and swell with blood the same way the lining of your uterus does during your period. This blood cannot easily escape from your body and it can cause severe pain. Depending on where the tissue is located, this can cause scar tissue and problems getting pregnant.

Many patients can attest that the journey to being diagnosed with endometriosis and finding the specialists who understand your condition and symptoms can be long and emotionally draining. However, data-centric healthcare company NextGen Jane is working with Harvard to establish how the diagnostic process could be made much faster and less invasive.

They are currently studying how menstrual blood extracted from tampons could be used to diagnose diseases like endometriosis. Their website reads: “We examine the genomic signals of your tampon cells to find the first signs of disease that can affect your fertility and quality of life. ”

The company stresses that it thinks it’s a missed opportunity to ignore what your period may be telling you about your overall health. “Every month during your period, your body provides you with a natural biopsy when it loses your endometrial lining,” they write. “Armed with our Smart Tampon platform that serves as a sentinel system for your reproductive health, we hope to have an impact on how you manage your health, from puberty to postmenopause. ”

Currently, it is advisable to see a specialist if you think you have endometriosis. However, having access to a gynecologist or healthcare professional who understands the disease and its associated symptoms can be difficult and costly. The NHS says that before you see your doctor, it’s a good idea to keep a journal of your symptoms. It can make recalling your experience much easier.

Your doctor can start a diagnostic consultation by asking you questions about your symptoms and they can examine you. They may then recommend that you have an ultrasound. Afterwards, you may be referred to a specialist who can explain the process of laparoscopy to you. This is a procedure, conducted under general anesthesia, where a surgeon inserts a thin tube into a small incision to try to see any endometrial tissue.

Although a laparoscopy is a procedure used by healthcare professionals to identify and diagnose endometriosis, it is not available to everyone, can be extremely invasive, and may not even be an option presented to you. by your doctor.

NextGen Jane is hoping that through their research into what menstrual blood can tell you about intimate health issues, they can completely reverse the way conditions like endometriosis are diagnosed.

The Endometriosis Foundation of America pointed out that participating in research can be as simple as wearing a smart tampon for a few hours and then giving it to researchers. If the study is successful in identifying the signs of endometriosis, it could have a dramatic impact on how patients access the care they need.


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