It always seems like there’s too much to do and nowhere near enough time to do it. Right?
We’re supposed to get seven or eight hours’ sleep per night. We spend five days a week at work. We’re supposed to maintain some sort of exercise routine, engage with popular culture and maintain some sort of social life. We should call our parents and find time for self-care. That’s before we’ve even started on the cooking, cleaning and bill-paying responsibilities that none of us can escape.
‘How can we do it all?!’ is the rallying cry of 2023 – and so taking care of our health can start to plummet down the priorities list. And yet: healthcare should be the most important thing of all; and it doesn’t have to be inconvenient, painful and time-consuming. Here at Daye, we’re forever touting the benefits of prioritising gynaecological health in an accessible, non-intimidating way; and our At-Home Vaginal Microbiome Screening (also known as the Diagnostic Tampon Kit) – which enables you to screen your vaginal health with a tampon, which you can then send back to Daye’s lab for analysis – is one of our latest initiatives in that regard.
So, in a world in which looking after our personal health is too often dismissed with ‘I’ll get to it when I have more time’, we asked two doctors for their thoughts on our Vaginal Screening – to give you a greater insight into how important it really is to prioritise our health (or vaginal health, in this case) and how easy – in our busy, fast-paced, ‘never enough time’ world – it can be to do so.
Director of Cannabinoid-Based Therapies at MorseLife Health System in West Palm Beach, Florida and a Clinical Affiliate Assistant Professor at Charles E Schmidt School of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University.
Dr. Amira Bhaiji is an Internal Medicine Physician at Chelsea
and Westminster Hospital and Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals, as well as a Medical Doctor at NHS England.
Both sit on Daye’s Clinical Advisory Board; and so we asked Dr. Bone to tell us about the vaginal microbiome and the role of the Diagnostic Tampon in screening it; and we then asked Dr. Bhaiji to try out our Vaginal Screening as if she were a regular customer.
Kicking things off with Dr. Bone…
Daye: What exactly is the vaginal microbiome?
Dr. Bone: The vaginal microbiome refers to the microbes (bacteria, yeast, viruses, etc.) that inhabit the vagina along with the complex nourishing system that supports them. The microbiome is found in every woman and [AFAB individual]. It is a dynamic environment that responds to the various changes it encounters, from hormones to medications to body fluids to stressors.
The vaginal microbiome underlies a variety of health concerns including infections, fertility concerns and a host of other ailments.
Daye: What are the benefits of our Diagnostic Tampon?
Dr. Bone: [The Diagnostic Tampon] is an invaluable tool to screen for disruptions and imbalances in the vagina that enables practitioners to offer more personalised and effective treatment options.
Checking the vaginal microbiome can facilitate more accurate diagnosis and management of common vaginal complaints including discharge, odour and irritation. It can afford a discreet and rapid diagnosis of any sexually-transmitted infections in sexually active people. It can detect more subtle shifts in the microbiome that may affect IVF and can even assess for some of the microbiome changes that are common when hormone levels decrease around the time of menopause.
It has even better accuracy than a swab and does not require an appointment and an internal exam by a practitioner to determine if an imbalance or infection is present.
Daye: What are the benefits of screening the vaginal microbiome via a tampon (rather than a swab)?
Dr. Bone: Daye offers a tampon to be worn (not during the menses) and then returned in the packaging supplied, with a rapid turnaround time for diagnosis. It has even better accuracy than a swab and does not require an appointment and an internal exam by a practitioner to determine if an imbalance or infection is present.
Daye: What are your thoughts on the aftercare options offered as part of the Vaginal Screening?
So, now that we’ve heard a little from Dr. Bone about the vaginal microbiome and about the Vaginal Screening’s role in screening it, let’s hear about Dr. Bhaiji’s first-hand experience of trialling the product itself…
Daye: What were your first impressions when you received/opened the Diagnostic Tampon Kit?
Dr. Bhaiji: Beautifully packaged and very welcoming. Everything was double- and triple-packed and [the] anonymity of what was inside the package was preserved.
Daye: How did you find the testing process itself? What was it like for you?
Dr. Bhaiji: The pack had very clear instructions and, for a process that is complex, it was surprisingly easy to follow and complete. The pictorial guide on the leaflet made conducting the swab a simple step-by-step process, and the packaging and emphasis on maintaining sterile conditions was also clearly outlined.
Daye: How did you feel when sending the test off for analysis?
Dr. Bhaiji: Nervous and excited! I am intrigued to see my results come through!
I thought it would be more complex but it was done in a matter of minutes.
And, later they did come through…
Dr. Bhaiji: The results came very, very quickly which was surprising, considering my expectation was that it would be around a week, for example.
My results were really informative and, as a clinician [who] is aware of the different pathogens it was intriguing to see. The depth of the results were also manageable to consume and the explanations were informative and not overwhelming.
Daye: What was the most positive part of the process for you?
Dr. Bhaiji: The instructions made conducting the test really easy and the explanations provided throughout were very clear. I thought it would be more complex but it was done in a matter of minutes.
Daye: Is there anything about the Diagnostic Tampon Kit that you feel could be improved?
Dr. Bhaiji: Maybe sticky numbered labels on the different components that match the instruction on the leaflet, so that when starting and finishing there is no mix up between bags and products. It was very easy, though – a seamless process, to reiterate!
Daye: Do you have anything further to add – either about the Diagnostic Tampon Kit, or about the vaginal microbiome in general?
Dr. Bhaiji: I feel more women [and AFAB individuals] should be aware of what it is and why it is important. It would be great if that was included in the kit, in a small brief description. [And] maybe whilst awaiting [...] the results it would be great to see what is happening; for example, a timeline to say:
- Your swab has reached the lab
- The technicians are running your sample
- Your results are being finalised
- Your results are on their way!
Something like the above would allow me, as the user, to be aware of what is happening in real time, to remove any worry in case my swab was not received or there was a sample issue, for example.
If there’s one thing we love, it’s feedback – we’re always committed to improvement and to making our products as safe, efficient and beneficial as they can possibly be. Stay tuned to see how the Diagnostic Tampon evolves; and, if you use it, we’d always love to hear your feedback, too. In the meantime, though, back to both Dr. Bone for some parting thoughts…
Daye: How do you think the Diagnostic Tampon could impact the landscape of gynaecological healthcare in general, going forwards?
Dr. Bone: So many women and [AFAB individuals] would prefer to use an at-home easy and accurate test to diagnose a vaginal microbiome problem. This does not eliminate the need to have gynaecological care, but will permit straightforward vaginal issues to be dealt with outside of a medical office, leaving practitioners to see more complex issues that require their input.
This tampon is revolutionary.
Daye: Do you have anything further to add, either on the Diagnostic Tampon or the vaginal microbiome in general?
Dr. Bone: This tampon is revolutionary. It will permit screenings of large populations in places where there [are] no available gynaecological practitioners. The fact that it can be done at home, on one’s own time, helps to streamline better care for everyone.
And, finally back to Dr. Bhaiji one last time…
Dr. Bhaiji: Overall, I found the process very user-friendly and easy to do. The turnover time was the most satisfied I have been, especially considering most medical-related tests and outcomes take a long time to be returned. It was really intriguing to find out about my own composition and now I feel I know more about my own body!
Great process and thank you for providing an excellent service.