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Breakthrough study: Real blood tested for the first time in truth about period blood absorbency

A recent study, unlike any before, decided to ditch the old-school saline method and use real blood instead. How come? Because it makes sense. This highlights a larger issue: women’s experiences in the scientific world have continually been overlooked.

Say goodbye to the days of using saline, which never truly captured the real deal. This study decided to use common sense and test period products with actual blood to test how efficient period products claim to be. The outcome? More accurate data that reflects what women go through. 

Remember when car safety tests only used male dummies? This particular oversight has been mirrored in many scientific fields. The shift to using female dummies in car safety tests came later than it should have, just like this recent shift in period product testing.

This study’s move to use real blood for period product testing, in 2023, is a reminder that we still have work to do. Among the tested menstrual hygiene products, a Chinese menstrual disc displayed the highest capacity, absorbing a noteworthy 80 mL of RBCs (red blood cells). In contrast, both room-temperature and ice-activated perineal cold packs, as well as a pair of period underwear, held a mere 1 mL of RBCs each, with no significant variation based on size.

The study’s outcomes revealed a difference with the holding amount labeled on most menstrual products,  stemming from manufacturers using non-blood liquids, such as saline, during testing.

Testing with RBCs is a step in the right direction for advancing period products, but experts acknowledge that menstrual blood possesses a greater viscosity than the tested packed RBCs. Typically, it is composed of blood, vaginal secretions, and endometrial cells. Individuals experiencing heavy menstrual bleeding may even have blood clots, which can potentially cause leakage in some menstrual hygiene products.

As we celebrate this fresh approach to period product testing, let’s remember that it’s just the beginning. The shift from saline to real blood in period product testing isn’t just about better products; it’s about equality in scientific fields.


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