Many elements of medicine that mostly affect women have failed to evolve in tandem with modern technology: from contraception to the vaginal speculum – a fact that many believe is a product of our patriarchal society. But thankfully change is afoot. Pioneering women are creating new forms of contraception and redesigning existing devices to make other women's lives more bearable.
The latest item being reworked? The pregnancy test. The traditional test has barely changed in the last 30 years, but a new version has been created that's good for women and the planet.
Female-run startup Lia Diagnostics announced earlier this week that it will be launching the world's first flushable pregnancy test, making it more private and convenient for women to check whether or not they're pregnant and cutting the amount of plastic and other non-sustainable material that ends up in landfill, TechCrunch reported. The flushable device works in the same way as a traditional plastic test, reacting to a woman's urine and displaying two lines on the stick if she's pregnant, one line if she's not.
“It’s been the same stick test since 1987, and that’s kind of crazy,” said Bethany Edwards, who founded the company in 2015 with Anna Simpson. Edwards started working on the idea as part of her masters at the University of Pennsylvania, where she was interested in material science innovations.
“Single-use diagnostics are only used for a couple of minutes, and they’re all made out of plastic and non-sustainable materials,” Edwards said. The Lia test, by contrast, is biodegradable as it's made of a special paper that breaks down in water, making it safe to flush down the toilet and ensuring that no one will find it in the bin.
The device has been cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and will be available online via Amazon and the company's own website in mid-2018, with a worldwide rollout expected in due course.
Unlike many other ethical and/or "sustainable" products, such as tampons, it won't cost a fortune compared to regular tests. It'll be priced somewhere between $9 and $22 (£6.70 – £16.40) and buyers can also choose to donate a test to the company's partner organisations for $10 (£7.50), including Planned Parenthood Global. Win win all round. Could this be the future of pregnancy tests?
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