New tampon test can detect HPV

Woman with a tampon in the bathroom. (Getty)
There is now a tampon-based at home test for HPV, the virus that can lead to cervical cancer. (Getty)

Women are now able to test for HPV, the infection that can cause cervical cancer, in the comfort of their own home using a unique tampon-based screening kit.

Women's health startup Daye already has a "diagnostic tampon”, which uses PCR testing technology to allow women to screen their vaginal microbiome and test for STIs, but now it will also be able to screen for 14 high-risk HPV infections.

HPV is a common virus, spread by skin-to-skin contact.

There are more than 200 types of HPV, but around 40 types of HPV affect the anus (back passage) and genitals, and 14 of these are known as high-risk HPV. This is because they are linked to some cancers.

Most strains of HPV do not present with any symptoms, which means proactive screening is crucial in helping to detect cases, particularly as the infection is incredibly common with eight in 10 becoming infected at least once in their lifetime.

The issue is compounded as many still don't know enough about HPV and its potential complications with figures from Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust revealing nearly a quarter (24%) had never heard of HPV and just 16% knew it was “common”.

Nearly all cervical cancer cases (99.8%) are caused by persistent high-risk HPV infections, while the virus can also impact fertility and play a role in oral cancer.

Cervical cancer is one of the deadliest female cancers, and following the COVID pandemic, the NHS hasn’t been able to meet its cervical cancer screening target.

Thanks to scientific breakthroughs, such as the HPV vaccine and the pap smear, cervical cancer rates have fallen by over a quarter since the early 1990s. However, around 3,300 people still receive a cervical cancer diagnosis every year in the UK.

NHS England has set an ambitious target to eliminate cervical cancer by 2040, and at-home HPV screen, could help to support this goal.


Typically, HPV tests are performed during a cervical screening (smear test), where a small sample of cells will be taken from your cervix to check for certain types of HPV that can cause changes to the cells of your cervix.

However, the new "diagnostic tampon" will allow women to collect a sample in the comfort of their own home before sending it to a lab for results within five to 10 working days.

The one-size tampon, which is similar to a regular absorbency menstrual tampon, has an applicator which allows for easy insertion and is made with 100% organic, ethically sourced materials, free from dyes, pesticides, plastic, rayon, chlorine bleach, dioxin, phthalates and fragrances,

Once inserted, users are required to leave the tampon in for a minimum of 20 minutes before putting in the plastic sample bag included in the kit and posting back in the box provided (just like we did with Covid tests).

Daye will also provide personalised aftercare, including prescription treatments and consultations with gynae health specialists and if a patient tests positive for a high-risk HPV strain, they will be referred for a pap smear with an NHS specialists.

Experts say the at-home tests will work alongside regular cervical screenings and could help make more women comfortable with being tested.

“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," explains. Valentina Milanova, founder & CEO of Daye.

“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.”


Going for cervical screening when invited is the best way to find cell changes early. They can then be monitored or treated.

Although cervical cancer is rare, it is important to be aware of the symptoms.

According to Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust these can include:

  • vaginal bleeding that is unusual for you — including after the menopause, after sex, or between regular periods

  • changes to vaginal discharge

  • pain or discomfort during sex

  • unexplained pain in your lower back or between your hip bones (pelvis).

These symptoms can be caused by a lot of things, so they do not mean you have cervical cancer. But as you know your body best it is important to contact your GP if you have any of these symptoms or notice anything unusual for you.