Odds are you never expected to hear the words “nanotechnology” and “menstrual cycle” in the same sentence. If you read the Washington Post and saw this week’s Health Section, then you know where I’m headed. Thanks to Dr. Sharma at the Indian Institute of Technology, maxi pad technology is about to be revolutionized.
Indian women have limited access to clean and absorbent pads. Sadly, they may even use rags, sand, or newspaper to absorb their monthly cycle, which is a set up for infection and discomfort. Fortunately, here in the U.S., women have an over abundance of pad options and access to other services like the new Lola tampon subscription delivery service or collection methods like the Diva Cup. Pads work well here because of super absorbent polymers or SAPs. The untold truth, though, is that SAPs may not be so kind to your labia. They are petroleum based – a chemical that takes eons to degrade in landfills. Not only are they environmentally unfriendly, but they are also not kind to your body. Many women develop allergic reactions to SAPs and they have also been attributed to pelvic infections, like toxic shock syndrome. Tampons do not contain SAPs.
On a crusade to develop a better maxi pad for Indian women, Dr. Sharma (a male scientist!) and his team have created a new fiber that is SAP-free and absorbs liquid better. They are more porous with a larger surface area and softer to the touch, which makes for more grateful vaginas. This is great news for Indian women who may soon have access to a safer, cheaper, and improved pad. It’s estimated that Indian women may miss up to two days of work per menstrual cycles, so the economic implications of a superpad are fairly significant as well. Kudos to Dr. Sharma for this advance in women’s health! He and his team are currently working to mass produce the product in the Indian market and hope someday to reach the U.S. market as well. Regardless of your choice of tampon or pad, it’s nice to hear of a man out there wanting to keep us more comfortable and chemical free.