British feminine care start-up turned gynecological health, Day, has expanded its swab-based home testing service to add STI testing. The startup charges for this “non-invasive screening” service for sexually transmitted infections as a “world first”.
The “STI Diagnostic Buffer” service uses polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing technology to detect the presence of pathogens. Daye is launching with the ability to test for five STIs, namely: chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomonas, mycoplasma and ureaplasma, which were selected because they are the most common STIs. But other tests are planned.
The move is coming one year later the startup has unveiled an ambitious initiative in the field of gynecological health – with the launch of a vaginal microbiome screening service. Daye tells TechCrunch that he has “thousands” of customers for this service – which is a bit more complicated to manage since samples must be returned with an ice pack (and hopefully minimal postal delays) so that the laboratory can detect live. pathogens.
The STI test is simpler because the PCR test looks for genetic material – dead or alive; this type of test does not discriminate: the user must therefore simply place their sample in the extraction solution provided before submitting it for analysis.
Daye of course also sells tampons for regular menstrual use. But she always wanted to do more with the basic feminine hygiene product than just capture the flow. Its flagship product is a CBD-infused tampon to combat menstrual cramps. Although it also sells a “naked” (i.e. CBD-free) version – and this core offering forms the basis of a growing line of vaginal and sexual health screening services that transform the tampon base into a new sample collection device.
The trick here is that it turns what might be an intrusive test into something its customers are likely to be intimately familiar with — and literally as simple as inserting and removing a tampon.
Daye didn’t invent the idea of using tampons to test for STIs, as founder Valentina Milanova explained when we delved deeper into its broader mission. Last year. British university researchers pioneered menstrual tampon screening in the 1990s. But Milanova is on a mission to expand the use and usefulness of the technique, seeing it as a practical way to help women get better. learn so much more about their own bodies from the comfort of their own bathroom.
The startup also claims that the tampons are a better testing device than swabs or other protocols a patient might be administered in a sexual health clinic or doctor’s office because its testing tampons collect more vaginal fluid and cover a larger surface area – so she claims it’s both a more accurate way to test for STIs than a swab and more comfortable than a speculum.
PCR tests, on the other hand, have become very familiar after the COVID-19 pandemic. The Daye STI test uses the same principle as this gold standard detection test for coronoviruses – but in this case, it looks for traces (or more) of genetic material from STI-causing pathogens.
“The specificity of PCRs ensures that false positive results are reduced, thereby providing a more reliable diagnosis,” he suggests, also noting that the test can simultaneously detect multiple pathogens in a single sample. So full marks for convenience.
More convenience is coming, too, as it also adds more tests: Daye says HPV is next on her list — an STI that has been linked to an increased risk of cervical cancer.
Another item to add “soon” to their list is offering GBS screening to pregnant patients. “GBS is a common bacteria often carried in the intestines or lower genital tract. Although it is generally harmless in adults, it can cause serious infections in newborns if transmitted during childbirth. Screening pregnant women for GBS allows timely administration of antibiotics during labor, thereby significantly reducing the risk of neonatal infections,” Daye tells us.
The startup also plans to offer herpes screening to everyone.
The STI testing service is launching in the UK first – priced at £99 each – and the US is expected to get the service “soon”. Daye also aims to expand testing services elsewhere in Europe, saying it is currently working on creating a tracking offering to support patients across the EU.
How does the STI testing service work? The user receives a test kit in the mail and, after self-administering a vaginal swab by inserting and removing the test swab, then storing their sample as directed, they return the sample to the partner laboratory of Daye for analysis – getting the results digitally, via Daye’s. application, in a few days.
For an extra £29, they can also get a “full” consultation about their results with a nurse. Users who do not purchase this optional supplement, but test positive for an STI, will receive a free five-minute call to walk them through their results and advise them on next steps, per day.
One of our questions is how sexual health clinics can routinely test for HIV when a patient comes in, that is, even if they are at the clinic for another sexual health problem. So if more people choose to adopt at-home STI testing, thanks to Daye’s convenient alternative, they may miss out on the opportunity to acquire important health information – since clinics or Doctors’ offices can often entice a treating patient to take advantage of the opportunity. test more widely while they are there in person.
When asked how this mitigates this risk, Daye told us: “We allow our patients to make an appointment in clinic for HIV testing, and in the future we may also expand blood testing to home for HIV. We ensure that our patients are well informed about the risks associated with HIV and are reminded of the need to be tested regularly. We would like to play a significant role in destigmatizing sexual health and providing medically supported advice on the recommended screening cadence.
The startup also gave us a breakdown of the main customers for its new vaginal microbiome screening service a year and more after this launch, indicating that there are three main groups:
- people with symptoms and recurrent vaginal discharge who wish to identify and treat the exact pathogen causing their discomfort to enable more targeted diagnosis and care;
- people with ongoing unexplained fertility problems, or those undertaking an IVF cycle, who want to ensure their vaginal environment is optimal for conception;
- people suspected of perimenopause and/or menopause, who wish to confirm the status of the vaginal microbiome and share this information with their doctor to help them determine the best HRT route for them.