Like many girls, Hannah Wilen struggled with her period growing up. Now, at the age of 24, she is working to make periods easier to manage and eliminate the stigma surrounding them through innovation and education. Last year she co-founded Capd Period with Neil Bhatia, a company with a mission of doing just that.
The company’s flagship product, which was developed in Wilen’s Santa Monica home, is an innovative menstrual cup that can be emptied without being removed.
Wilen said she switched to using menstrual cups for her period several years ago. While she loved that they were reusable and therefore more sustainable than single-use tampons and pads, she found that they lacked convenience, a factor which deters many women from using them.
“Basically all menstrual cups on the market today, what you have to do every time you need to empty them throughout the day is you have to take it out of your body, empty it, wash it with clean water, reinsert it,” she said. “This is a really tedious process and if you’re in a porta potty, on a hike, in between classes and stuff, this is really unfeasible.”
Wilen, a product development engineer, saw room for improvement.
“As a woman engineer, I really wanted to use my skills to understand the pain points of people who menstruate and use my own personal experience to develop a better product for people who menstruate, because I am a person who menstruates,” she said.
So, she came up with the Capd Cup.
“The way it works is it has a cap at the bottom of it, so every time you need to empty your cup, you just open the cap, everything comes out, you close the cap up and you’re on with your day in a few seconds,” she said.
Capd Period recently won the 2023 Westly Prize, an award from the Westly Foundation which provides grants to young social innovators in California who are finding “novel solutions to community challenges.”
“We’re really, really honored to have received that prize because it shows that people are caring about menstrual health and it’s bringing more awareness to these issues that so many people who menstruate deal with.”
Wilen said the Capd Cup is just one part of accomplishing Capd Period’s overall mission. She said the company also partners with Papa’s Hands, a non-profit organization focused on ending poverty in Uganda, to lead menstrual hygiene trainings and other period-related education efforts. They also use social media as a tool to try to ease the shame many women feel surrounding their periods.
“We do a lot of education on our TikTok and Instagram,” she said. “A lot of women do grow up with a lot of period stigma so through our platform on social media we’re trying to kind of squash those menstrual misconceptions and period taboos through education.”
Another key tenant of Capd Period’s work is promoting sustainability. In line with this, the Capd Cup can be reused for 12 hours at a time for up to a decade.
“Since our cup can be used for 10 years, that saves so many pounds of tampons from going into the landfill,” she said. “We really care about our environmental impact on the world… so that’s why it’s really important to us that we’re committed to our sustainability.”
While the Capd Cup has not yet hit the market, Wilen says they plan to manufacture it in the US and that the product will be made of medical grade, non-toxic, hypoallergenic silicone. Those interested can join the waitlist and sign up for product launch updates via email on the company’s website: https://capdperiod.com/
Wilen said she expects the Capd Cup to retail at around $35, comparable to other menstrual cups currently on the market.