Go with the Flowsense

With many visually impaired women facing limited availability of accessible feminine hygiene products; the lack of autonomy and privacy can intensify the constant fear of staining clothes and amplify feelings of uncertainty and vulnerability in making hygienic decisions without supervision. When there are already taboos around menstruation, visually impaired women can feel embarrassment and a sense of shame because most aren’t able to manage this fully independently.

This is where FlowSense comes in: the solution to help visually impaired women take control of their periods.

In the UK, there are around two million people with sight loss, and around 60% of these are women. In the current market, only two in five feminine hygiene products have any form of accessibility features. According to the ‘Menstrual hygiene management among visually impaired women’ study by Dündar and Özsoy, 61.5% of the visually impaired women who took part in the study had knowledge of menstrual hygiene management, obtaining this information mainly from their mothers. Of these women, 95.7% used sanitary pads, and 52.4% changed their sanitary pads less than four times a day, and 52.9% managed their menstrual hygiene dependently. Most women determined the start date of their menstrual cycle by the smell of blood and determined the end date by monitoring the duration of their normal cycle.

The founder

Muna Daud is the Founder of FlowSense, a period detection device that empowers visually impaired women to independently manage their menstrual hygiene with a discreet, accurate, and non-invasive method, whilst tracking their menstrual cycle and providing education on their menstrual health.

At University, Daud had worked on multiple product design projects. One of these was a heating garment to help tackle period pain, as well as other healthtech products, as this is the sector where she has found her niche.

“I always focus on products that relate to healthcare or accessibility, with an inclusive design approach,” Daud commented.

Daud is a skilled individual, having recently graduated from Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art, doing a Master’s, that was joint between the two schools, in Innovation Design Engineering, blending elements of art and design together. During this course, Daud decided to focus on women’s healthcare.

In her Bachelor’s degree, Daud studied Biomedical Engineering, focusing on designing within the medical field sector exploring tracking devices for autism or dementia patients: “I always focused on products that would relate to healthcare or accessibility, with an emphasis on the aspects of inclusive design approach.”


FlowSense is the world’s first accessible period blood detection device for visually impaired women, and helps them manage and track their cycle, as well as provide information about their general health.

The inspiration came when Daud realised how inaccessible regular pregnancy tests are. When these products already have a lot of work put into them, she thought, why is it that the results are only available in a visual form? She then began researching other areas where this was an issue. After much research and talking to people, Daud realised that visually impaired woman had a hard time managing their menstrual cycles, which birthed the idea for FlowSense.

Daud began working with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and had a look at its campaign that focused on menstrual health as a whole. That is how she got connected to the volunteers and people she later got to collaborate with.

To begin, Daud needed to figure out how to detect the differences in vaginal fluids. Daud began testing the pH levels of different vaginal fluids and found that there was a big difference in the pH levels of regular discharge and blood. This was key, as someone who is visually impaired may not recognise the differences between discharge and blood, especially at the start or end of their cycle. This testing became the basis for how FlowSense would work.

From there, Daud needed to make the process accessible. For those who can see clearly, they can see the colour changing on a pH strip, so this needed to be tackled for those who are unable to. pH test strips are inside the device, as well as a sensor that can analyse the change, which can tell you whether it is period blood, or just regular discharge. This can also alert the user on where on the pH scale it lies, which can also give more information on general vaginal health. After the sensor analyses the results, it can give the user feedback through vibrations, three buzzes meaning the fluid is period blood, and one meaning it is regular discharge, which can also be seamlessly tracked on the accompanying app.

To use the product, all users need to do is swab the area of testing with the papers provided and placed the swab inside the device. This then analyses the sample and logs the information on the accompanying app.

“It comes with instructions that have accessibility design in mind. So, the instructions telling them how the device works, when they should be testing, how to interpret the results, the packaging has a QR code that links the device to the phone when they first get the product,” Daud explained.

One of a kind

It’s quite shocking that FlowSense has no direct competitors. There are no other devices on the market that are designed specifically to help visually impaired women detect period blood. This shows just how important FlowSense is in the market. Innovations like FlowSense empower the visually impaired to take back some of their independence, especially when dealing with something as personal as their menstrual cycle.


Designing a product such as this can come with a multitude of challenges.

“One of the concerns that would come up a lot with a lot of the users was to not design something that would make them feel different from everybody else,” Daud mentioned. She wanted to keep accessibility in mind but ensure the product didn’t make users feel as though they were ‘other.’

Daud herself isn’t visually impaired, so she had to eliminate all bias when working on the project, as she herself was not her target audience.

“The biggest challenge was not having my biased opinion in this entire design process and just going on feedback, to make sure that whatever I designed could be used by everybody. I couldn’t design anything and say ‘okay this would work,’ because I couldn’t have my biased opinion.”

When developing FlowSense, allowing users to test the product was key to ensuring the success and usefulness of the product. Discussing the testing process, Daud said: “A lot of times I didn't want to explain myself, I'd just give the product to them and see how they interact with it, because I could learn a lot from their interaction.”

Going with the flow

Having designed the product when she was at University, Daud hasn’t yet received any form of funding for the project.

Daud mentioned that she is looking into funding and wants to take the product further than just a project: “I'm the only one who's working on this so I really want to get into funding, as well as having other people that can work on this with me. It’s been less than two months, and I would say there’s been huge progress.”

FlowSense has the potential to completely disrupt the menstrual health field, and with such an innovative and accessible product that could change the lives of so many, Daud is set to not only go with the flow but revolutionise the entire industry.

This article originally appeared in the November/December issue of Startups Magazine. Click here to subscribe