‘Smart’ menstrual cup sends messages from your vagina

A very personal high-tech wellness tracker is at your cervix.

LOONCUP, a menstrual cup with a “securely embedded sensor that talks to your smartphone,” surpassed its $50,000 fundraising goal on Kickstarter this week.

It’s similar to other reusable silicone cups women can use during their periods, except this version comes equipped with a six-month battery and an antenna that connects to a smartphone app via Bluetooth.

The app sends you notifications that increase in frequency as the cup fills.

“It’s the world’s first smart menstruation cup, and you’ll love the way it tells you how full it is, and when it’s time to refresh,” the crowdfunding page reads.

It also tracks the colour of your period, which its creators say can measure your stress levels and quality of sleep (the more stressed you are, the fewer sex-related hormones you produce). The information is stored in the cloud, the company says, but won’t be sold to third parties.

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Each cup costs anywhere between $35 and $40 on Kickstarter but will likely retail for closer to $50. The battery, which is sealed inside the cup’s silicone body, is neither rechargeable nor replaceable.

Its designers hope to change that, eventually replacing the battery with wireless charging, which should increase the battery longevity closer to two years. The cup can still be used once the battery dies; it just won’t transmit any information.

Toronto-based naturopathic doctor Hilary Booth thinks it’s “phenomenal” if women are able to use that information to better their health.

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“When women start to become more aware and conscious of their bodies, it ends up being a good thing,” she said.

“More information is better. … It gives you a lot of clues about how your body is functioning.”

For instance, if you see very large clots in your period, Booth says that could be a sign of fibroids (an abnormal growth in your uterus).

Menstrual cups have been around for about 80 years but they’ve only recently started to become a more popular alternative to pads and tampons. Booth credits that to consumers’ growing demand for “natural” products.

READ MORE: Period art show aims to shock, open up dialogue about menstruation

Aside from being more environmentally-friendly, menstrual cups are considered to be more economical. The DivaCup site lists its suggested retail price at roughly $40 and says it can usually last a year or longer. “This reflects a savings of $100-150 a year when compared to purchasing disposables.”

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LOONCUP and other menstrual cups can be kept in for more than 12 hours because they don’t carry the potentially deadly risk of toxic shock syndrome that tampons do. Menstrual fluid in cups also isn’t exposed to oxygen, which is what makes pads smell bad.

The biggest issue some women seem to have with reusable period cups is the “ick” factor, Booth said. But she argues that’s unwarranted: Chances are you produce less than two ounces of period blood a month.

“Women have it in their heads that it’s going to be this gory, bloody awful thing,” Booth said.

“It takes a little bit of practice to get used to inserting it and removing it, but it’s not as gross as women think it’s going to be.”

LOONCUP’s creators insist it’s perfectly safe. They claim the Bluetooth is low energy and “there are no adverse health effects directly related to [the] signal,” which they say is “so low it barely registers and definitely can’t be compared to your smartphone.”

They do advise future users not to wear the cup while going through airport security, though, as its electronic components will likely set off X-ray machines. Its creators don’t think it will set off metal detectors elsewhere, though: “Those detect certain sensors on the products. Most metal detectors are not high powered enough to detect small metal in the skin,” said Abel Acuña.

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Due to the internal sensors and antenna, the LOONCUP shouldn’t be worn in MRIs or other scanning devices.

It’s set to be shipped starting Jan. 2016.


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