An Inspiring UK Woman is Trying to Change the Future of Menstruation

A 32-year-old Edinburgh woman’s invention could change the future of menstruation for females around the world – especially in developing nations.

Liita Iyaloo Cairney has designed a long-overdue period device that’s actually a pretty simple idea, which was inspired after a recent trip to a school in Namibia, where she was born.

The product is a reusable menstrual device that can be adopted by females globally, regardless of their socioeconomic background. Comprised of two parts, the device includes both a shell that fits around the pubic bone and a reusable liner that can either be washed and used again or be disposed of.

Taking it a step further, the Ph.D student has designed an accompanying website to educate young females on their reproductive anatomy.

“My dream is to actually have a walk-in shop where there is a wide range of menstrual products to suit whatever activity you are doing as a woman or a girl – whether you’re going hiking, running or whatever,” Cairney told The Huffington Post. “I think it’s silly that that doesn’t exist already.”


Photo: Michael Cochrane

Frankly, so do I. Women have only been dealing with their periods since the beginning of time, after all. Thankfully, however, companies like this one are at least lessening the toll our monthly visitor can take on us with progressive ‘period policies’.

“It’s crazy that in a world where humanity has got so far with technological advancements, and the menstrual cycle is such a critical part of human life, that this is an issue we’re still trying to tackle,” said Cairney.

But, as highlighted by her Namibia trip, many women lack access to affordable menstrual hygiene products that most of us take for granted. They simply can’t afford them and subsequently rely on makeshift solutions to manage their periods. So upon her return to the UK, Cairney began research into alternative menstrual products. Initially, her focus was on the menstrual cup – but the design came with potential issues.

“Not only do girls have zero access to the products that they need, but they also don’t understand their own anatomy. They are all quite reluctant to insert anything into their bodies,” said Cairney.

She therefore expanded on the idea of the menstrual cup and designed an externally-worn shell designed for young girls who are new to their periods.

Drawing on research from female peers back in the UK, Cairney discovered that the biggest period fear was leakage. Her invention ensures that this isn’t an issue. As opposed to other products that are reliant entirely on underwear for leakage protection, she set out to “design something that engaged with the ergonomics of a woman’s pubic area.”

Cairney’s innovative solution consists of two parts: an anti-leak shell that hugs the pubic area, and an absorbent bamboo liner that fits inside the shell. The shell is designed around the curve of the pubic bone and thigh area. To achieve the most effective design, she had somebody do a cast of her pubic area. As for the bamboo liner, it is designed to be reused for up to six months to a year.

Even the First Lady of Namibia has expressed her interest in purchasing the finished product and making it available to girls in the country. In the meantime, Cairney’s website, called ‘First Period’, launched yesterday to coincide with Global Menstrual Hygiene Day.

One thing’s for sure: the initiative could be a total game-changer.