Revolutionary tampon that can detect common HPV infection

Close-Up Of Woman Hand Holding Tampons
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)

A UK-based start up has released a one-of-a-kind HPV-testing system, in the form of a tampon. Daye, a gynaecology healthcare brand, has created the tampon to help tackle the rise in human papillomavirus (HPV) infections.

With nearly a third of people aged between 25 and 49 skipping cervical smears in 2023, Daye’s new innovation can make testing easier from the comfort of your own home. The brand previously created ‘diagnostic tampons’ for sexual transmitted infections, such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea, trichomonas, mycoplasma and ureaplasma.

The at-home HPV Screen can detect 14 high-risk HPV infections via a non-invasive tampon. According to the NHS, 99.8 per cent of cervical cancers are caused by persistent high-risk HPV infection.

Daye’s tampon can be inserted by users at home to collect a sample of cells. The tampon is then sent away, in a discreet manner, to a lab for testing. Daye said it can take within five to ten days for results.

The brand also offers personalised aftercare depending on the results of the HPV screening. Valentina Milanova, CEO and founder of Daye, said in a statement: “Eliminating cervical cancer by 2040 requires a joined-up approach of vaccination, screening and testing, and we hope to encourage more women and AFAB individuals to proactively test for HPV.

“By utilising the familiar tampon, this hassle-free HPV testing kit is extremely easy and comfortable to use, and we hope this will lead to more patients taking control over their long-term health and fertility.”

In November 2023, Amanda Pritchard, the chief executive of the NHS, said at a conference that it is working to “eradicate cervical cancer”. This includes making sure there is easier access to vaccines and screenings, as well as eliminating HPV by 2040.

What is HPV?

Human papillomavirus is the name of a very common group of viruses. They do not cause any problems in most people, but some types can cause genital warts or cancer.

According to the NHS, there are more than 100 different types of the virus. HPV doesn’t usually cause any symptoms, with most people who have it not realising they do.

In some cases, the virus can cause painless growths or lumps around your vagina, penis or anus (genital warts). Currently there is no treatment for HPV, with most infections not causing any problems and is cleared by your body within two years.

However, if HPV causes problems like genital warts or changes to the cervix, treatment will be needed.

Cervical screenings

HPV testing is part of cervical screening. There's no blood test for HPV. During the screening, a small sample of cells is collected taken from the cervix and tested for HPV.

Screenings are offered to all people with a cervix between the ages of 25 and 64 via the NHS. You’ll be first invited for a screening six months before your 25th birthday.

Between the ages of 25 and 49, you’ll be invited every three years; from 50 to 64, every five years; and from age 65, you’ll be invited if a recent test was abnormal.

For more information about cervical screenings, visit here.