New powder turns menstrual blood into gel, offers progress in women’s health

New powder turns menstrual blood into gel, offers progress in women’s health

New powder turns menstrual blood into gel, offers progress in women’s health

A year’s worth of disposable pads and tampons for one person produces 19.62 pounds of CO2 emissions, the same as charging a mobile phone more than 1000 times, according to WUKA, a maker of period-proof underwear.

Scientists from Virginia Tech have developed a biomaterial with a powder formula that converts blood into gel to combat emissions and yet serves the necessity of high-quality menstrual products for women.

The biomaterial is eco-friendly and absorbs blood well making it leakproof and minimizing spilling. According to the innovators, the material also helps prevent infections.

Alginate formula turns blood into gel

Bryan Hsu, assistant professor of biological sciences from Virginia Tech told Interesting Engineering that the biomaterial uses alginate which can be sourced naturally.

“Traditional uses for alginate have been in foods and biotechnology (such as drug delivery),” Hsu says.

“It is also used in wound dressings to accelerate hemostasis by concentrating clotting factors. Menstrual blood lacks the ability to coagulate on its own, so our approach is gel blood that can coagulate on its own.”

The biomaterial when added to menstrual products can turn period blood into a gel, improving absorption and reducing leakage.

Hsu explained how blood turns into gel stating that alginate and glycerol components are used in foods and for biomedical applications, so on their own they are expected to be safe. 

However, it’s not necessarily allergen-friendly. While using purified materials will reduce the likelihood of allergic reactions, Hsu said, this depends on whether people are allergic to alginate or glycerol. 

“We also use chitosan as an antimicrobial component and some people may be allergic to it because its parental compound, chitin, is a material in shellfish,” Hsu told IE

As per the statement, when the powder formula is added to a cotton coil and inserted into a menstrual cup or disc, the blood collected then turns into a gel, eliminating the mess when removing or changing the cup or disc. 

Potentially replace absorbent material in commercial menstrual pads

When asked about how the material would incorporated into period products, the scientist said that it could be used as a replacement for the absorbent material in commercially available menstrual pads. 

Additionally, the biomaterial can be used as an additive to menstrual cups to improve their performance, allowing women a sustainable selection to choose between. 

The formula also includes an antimicrobial polymer to prevent bacterial growth particularly – Staphylococcus aureus, reducing the risk of toxic shock syndrome.

Traditional period products rarely but have been known to lead to fatal illnesses as a result of bacterial infection caused by the use of period products.

According to a statement by Virginia Tech, test results indicate the inclusion of the polymer was effective in inhibiting bacteria, while also not decreasing the blood absorption capability of the powder formula.

The biomaterial has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and has been tagged safe to use in addition to being biodegradable.

This is because the alginate-glycerol powder formulation-based material was developed using natural sources, seaweed, and sugar alcohol.

“It’s found everywhere in foods and it’s approved by the Food and Drug Administration, so it’s considered safe,” Hsu noted in the statement. “It is in the boba tea or the cheap sushi you get in restaurants.”

Source: Interesting Engineering

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New powder turns menstrual blood into gel, offers progress in women’s health

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