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Medical-grade polymers revolutionize tampon technology

Norbert Sparrow

August 15, 2016

2 Min Read
Medical-grade polymers revolutionize tampon technology

Despite what those commercials may tell you, tampon design has not fundamentally changed since the original patent was filed in the early 1930s, according to The Flex Co. (Venice, CA). This startup, founded in 2015, is applying advances in medical-grade materials formulated for use in the body to the development of a tampon that promises “mess-free” sex during menstrual cycles as well as a more comfortable overall wearing experience.

The company describes Flex as a disposable, single-use menstrual product that can be worn safely for up to 12 hours. The outer edge of the disc is made of a proprietary blend of medical-grade polymer, which conforms to the user’s natural shape under exposure to body heat to create a leak-free seal. The soft center catch collects rather than absorbs the menstrual fluid. The circumference of the edge is made to fit inside the vaginal fornix, covering the cervix, and preventing menstrual fluid from entering the vaginal canal, explains the company on its website.

Because the product does not sit inside the vaginal canal (like a menstrual cup or tampon), it’s free of obstruction, making it extremely comfortable, claims the company. “This feature also comes in handy if you’d like to try mess-free sex,” it adds. “Cool, right?”

Flex also owns Softcup, which manufactures similarly designed menstrual discs, giving it a monopoly in this technology. In addition to being easier to use than tampons and cups, the discs have not been linked to toxic shock syndrome and are hypoallergenic, latex-free and disposable.

Since its launch, Flex has become FDA-compliant and sold more than 250 million menstrual discs, reports Tech Crunch, adding that “the company has an annual run rate in the multi-millions, according to founder and CEO Lauren Schulte.” She told Tech Crunch reporter Megan Rose Dickey that “advancements in medical-grade materials that are used inside of the body have finally made a product like Flex possible. What’s equally important—women are demanding better products. And investors are waking up to the fact that women’s health is not a niche market.” (The company recently secured $1 million in funding.)

Men are waking up, too. Apparently, 20% of Flex customers are blood-averse bros, and George Takei is a fan (see his tweet above).

About the Author(s)

Norbert Sparrow

Editor in chief of PlasticsToday since 2015, Norbert Sparrow has more than 30 years of editorial experience in business-to-business media. He studied journalism at the Centre Universitaire d'Etudes du Journalisme in Strasbourg, France, where he earned a master's degree.


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