How would you like to replace your tampon or pad with a plastic cup that collects your period and analyzes it on your smartphone? LOONCUP is the menstrual hygiene product that raised $160,000 on Kickstarter to fund its creation.
What is the LOONCUP?
A menstrual cup is a flexible feminine hygiene product in the shape of an upside down bell, placed inside the vagina during your period to catch menstrual fluid. It contains two attached parts: the stem and the cup. When full, the cup is removed and emptied into a toilet or sink, rinsed, and put back in.
I first learned about menstrual cups when I was just out of college, through a friend’s recommendation of the DivaCup. The concept grossed me out, and the DivaCup was hard to find in stores at the time, so I never really looked too deeply into it.
The bonus of this smart menstrual cup is that it uses Bluetooth and reports to your smartphone (iPhone and Android). As a woman, my first reaction was a big, fat nope. The idea of my vagina talking to my phone freaks me out. Maybe it’s because I grew up with two options: pads with or without wings, and tampons with or without applicator.
However, there is a fan base for menstrual cups in general, and 3.6k investors did commit to LOONCUP’s development through Kickstarter. So I’d like to help you consider it.
Why Understanding Your Period With LOONCUP Could Be a Good Idea
The group behind this concept says the LOONCUP can do the things we need to do every month to make sure we are having a healthy menstruation. As you probably know, experts say that means to watch the color, how much tissue actually gets shed in a period, and to make sure we have a regular cycle.
Who actually does that? I remember doing it the first year after I got my first period, but I was on a blood thinner. I had to make sure I wasn’t bleeding out and dying. A serious bleed never happened. Having an easier way to track it would have been cool, especially as a young adult. However, after I was taken off the blood thinner, I never looked back.
Your Monthly Period Partner
Most girls and women aren’t ever on a blood thinner, so they don’t spend time menstrual studying. This device could help calm qualms about irregular periods and times when you think, “ooh, that doesn’t look so good.” Perhaps before having to make that embarrassing call to your doctor’s office, a check of the app will suffice.
The LOONCUP suggests you consider it a good friend – a period partner, to be exact. That friend will tell you when it’s time to refresh your cup, too. That was one of my early worries about a menstrual cup. How would I know, what about overflow? Well, this smart cup will provide notifications.
Plus, it can track your cycles and help you keep on top of your body’s rhythm. How many times have you been at the OB/GYN and are asked for the date of your last period? Not only could you offer that up, but you could show a summary of all the juicy specifics.
Getting Down & Dirty: Traditional Feminine Hygiene vs. LOONCUP
Testing Menstruation Fluids Blood for Anemia, Glucose, Cholesterol
The manufacturer says it understands each woman is unique, with varying separate medical conditions. It is working on several different types of its LOONCUP to pair menstrual monitoring with individual needs.
What would that look like? In addition to analyzing the already mentioned characteristics of your period, modified versions could be able to:
- Check anemia with hemoglobin
- Do glucose checks for people suffering from diabetes
- Test cholesterol levels for people suffering from hyperpiesia [Note: We have an inquiry into LOON Lab, Inc. about this one, because hyperpiesia means high blood pressure, not a type of an elevated cholesterol disorder.]
That would be pretty awesome. They are seeking additional pledges on Kickstarter to fund such an expansion.
Skeptics Challenge LOONCUP
Fans of existing reusable menstrual cups say that if positioned properly, neither the stem nor cup can be felt. They also like to disinfect their devices, by boiling them after every cycle is complete.
LOONCUP’s internal tech can’t survive boiling, meaning it must be hand-washed with soap and water.
Its antenna–located in the stem–must be outside the vagina for transmissions to reach the smartphone app. Part of positioning a traditional menstrual cup properly involves the cup’s stem being inserted ever so slightly into the vagina. Critics of LOONCUP say its antenna-stem will constantly rub the labia, creating irritation and the possibility of actual injury.
There is also the problem of clearance by the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA doesn’t require makers of traditional menstrual cups to notify it prior to selling. But some say the technical specifics of the LOONCUP don’t resemble existing menstrual cups enough to be exempt. That could mean a long wait period, if true, and potential approval hurdles.
Those are some big considerations.
Lighthearted Ending: When NOT to Wear LOONCUP
The company warns against wearing when you’re traveling by plane. But the problem isn’t related to flying itself. “We highly advise customers to NOT wear the device while going through airport security. The embedded battery, sensors, and antenna will likely set off x-ray machines.”
The fear of a security guard’s passing glance at a tampon or pad in your purse during a search at a concert hall would suddenly feel like child’s play.
LOONCUP has reportedly encountered issues with production. The initial 3,600 investors have still not been shipped their digital period devices, months after the manufacturer’s last update. It continues to take preorders for the device and app.