Alex Casey interviews Doctor Dan Dopps, creator of a new vaginal adhesive that hopes to seal the menstrual product deal … literally.
Bleeders, palm off your pads, trash your tampons and shoot your mooncup straight to the moon. There’s a brand new innovation in time-of-the-month technology called Mensez, a lipstick for your other set of lips that seals everything up down there like an Action Man when you are on your period, until you wee and all the blood evacuates somehow. Sorry, not sorry for the details – and a brief warning that things are going to get a lot more gnarly from here.
This menstruation innovation has been patented by Doctor Dan Dopps, a chiropractor in Wichita, Kansas. When someone first posted the Mensez website on our On the Rag Facebook page, I screamed and screamed and screamed until someone had to seal my mouth shut. Was it a joke? Would it actually work? Why a lipstick? Why us? Why anything?! I had to know more. I had to know everything. I had to … get on Skype with Dr Dan the Period Man himself.
I hope this isn’t too brash to begin, but is Mensez real or is this a Nathan For You hoax?
No, I am for real. Serious. I have a patent on this product and it is definitely for real.
As a woman who has the potential to use this product, can you give me the Shark Tank pitch?
It’s definitely serious and it’s about women. It’s not about me, it’s not about men, it’s about women and the issues that they have with their periods. It’s a tough subject to talk about, it’s taboo and a lot of women feel like men shouldn’t even be talking about it. It’s also an area in the modern world where there’s been no innovation in the last 80 years, you know? Nothing has changed.
[Editor’s note: Hello Mooncups in 2002, Hello Thinx Period Panties in 2008]
I am an innovator, a doctor and I like inventing. I came up with this idea and I think it’s very elegant. It’s going to work and it’s going to be so good for women. It’s not a glue, like so many have been saying. The labia is covered with a mucus membrane and they normally stick together a little bit. All we’re doing is enhancing that attraction so they cling together tight enough to retain the menstrual fluid inside the vagina, in the same place in a vagina that a tampon would be.
Obviously, you are a man of medicine so I feel like I can say this… I just feel like I would want the STRONGEST of glues if I am just going to just freestyle with nothing in there on my period.
Right. Well, it’s strong enough to do what we need but it’s not a superglue – many women are afraid of that concept. Like you are saying you want to be secure, and I know that’s a big issue, but it’s not a superglue. The unique thing is that this glue does not react with blood, or sweat or perspiration, it only reacts with urine. When it gets wet with urine, it dissolves.
What if I do a little wee by accident? Am I going to be in big trouble?
You could be. On certain days, it may be a bad thing and it may not be an answer, just like tampons aren’t an answer for all women either. A girl will just have to test it and see if it works for her. Hopefully it will, I’m sure there will be lighter days where it will work just fine.
How are you so confident that this is going work?
Because of my background in chemistry, I’ve tested a lot of things – not on women, because we’re not in clinical trials of any kind – I am confident the concept is there. It will take some product development beyond this point, but I was confident enough that the chemistry was going to work that I spent five years and a lot of money to get it patented.
Five years is no joke.
No joke, the patent office wasn’t going to give it to me because they were sure that it had been done before. They searched the world over for five years and found absolutely nothing like this. It is a unique idea. It’s really hard for women, being so used to the status quo, to even take this seriously because of the implications for them. The implications will be very good.
How does a chiropractor get into the realms of menstrual innovation?
In my college education, I had OBGYN courses and I passed the national board exams. Even though I don’t practice, I know the anatomy and the physiology of female reproduction. I also have a next door neighbour who got Toxic Shock Syndrome from tampons and lost both her legs and seven of her fingers. Knowing her over the years, it’s always been in the back of my mind: why doesn’t someone innovate something new for women? To people who would say that this isn’t part of my specialty – everyone knows that innovation comes from thinking outside of the box.
Or inside the box, as it were.
That truly is one of the reasons I believe that nothing has been done. Doctors have been taught to stay in their little corner and so they aren’t doing anything about it. It’s like you, you are a reporter but you might be a really good cook too.
I’m not, but I appreciate the thought.
Everyone has other talents outside of their job, you know?
Very true. Where did you get the idea to put the product inside a lovely lipstick for a lady?
Well, my patent covers different methods of application. It could be a spray or a cream, but I think a lipstick is familiar to women. They know how to use it, they know what it is and it’s about the right consistency of the compound we are proposing to use. It could be in a powder or it could be applied by a mini-panty liner where it would transfer on. But the idea of a lipstick just fits perfectly: it’s just sticking the lips together.
I have read that you think women waste 25% of their productivity on periods. That seems like a lot.
I didn’t really mean to say it that way. I just meant that it’s a distraction for women about 25% of the time. Their life just isn’t normal. I use the analogy of playing a football game, and in the fourth quarter of every game the woman is distracted and not playing as well as she could. You aren’t going to win all the games that way.
Let’s say this lipstick idea takes off and women use it and get our 25% focus back, what would you hope we do with the extra time?
Have fun. Be women. Don’t we all just want more time to do the things we love? I don’t mean this in a misogynistic way – do you know I didn’t even know what that word meant until about a month ago when someone called me that? I am certainly doing this with women in mind, I won’t ever use it but I think I can help a lot of women.
Do you have volunteers lining up to test the product? How confident are you that they could wear white pants when they test this out?
Oh I’m totally confident. I would suggest when a woman first tries this that she wears some kind of liner for extra security. There are variations in anatomy that may not work for some women, and I’m sure it won’t work for everyone. You’ll just have to build your confidence with it. It’s a very small, concentrated amount of blood, it just looks like a whole bunch. I’ve had thousands of women emailing me saying they want to try it out.
Where does Mensez go from here?
We’ve had a number of companies contact us, and we are trying to find a good fit. We want someone with the ability to produce it and bring it to market, someone with a good research and development lab. It’s probably going to take a few years from this point to get into consumer’s hands, but I think it will happen.
I read an interview where you mentioned this was just the latest in many patents you own. What else have you invented?
I have an invisible UV paint company, that’s kind of fun. It’s a paint that you spray on anything and it’s invisible until you shine a UV light on it. It’s a fun thing for kids and college students and Hollywood and Governments. I have a patent on a water bottle cap, and a patent on a resealable snack bag. Those are some of the recent ones. I just like innovating, that’s just what I do.
Have you thought about merging the resealable snack bag, the invisible UV paint and the vagina lipstick into one product?
No, I’ll think I’ll leave that one to you.
The Society section is sponsored by AUT. As a contemporary university we’re focused on providing exceptional learning experiences, developing impactful research and forging strong industry partnerships. Start your university journey with us today.
Subscribe to The Bulletin to get all the day’s key news stories in five minutes – delivered every weekday at 7.30am.