I just came across your story from November 2008 about menstrual cups. I'm wondering if there have been any updates. I've been using The Keeper for 10 years and was about to replace it when I discovered you can no longer get it in Canada.
That's when I came across your article. One thing that surprised me was this statement from Health Canada: "Latex degrades over time when exposed to body fluids. Body fluids, such as mucous, speed up the extraction of chemical additives such as stabilizers and antioxidants from latex implants."
I thought The Keeper was made from natural rubber (latex) and had no chemical additives or stabilizers. Had I known that it did, I might not have been using it all these years, or at least I would have replaced it much, much sooner.
Have you heard of any new policies regarding menstrual cups in Canada? I'd appreciate your input.
You are referring to this article. When DivaCup (a Canadian company that makes silicone menstrual cups) changed its policy from "lasting many years" to "replace every year" and changed the wording on their website without acknowledging this and the Keeper suddenly couldn't sell its product in Canada, I became concerned. When companies in the business of women's health suddenly shift policies, my alarm bells go off.
I'm old enough to remember the Rely tampon scandal, a product linked to cancer and fertility loss. We shouldn't have to put our lives at risk just to ensure our periods are sopped up without public incident.
I no longer require a menstrual cup because I was hurled into early menopause so I'm out of the loop on the topic. Here's what Elizabeth from The Keeper has to say: "Canada no longer accepts any product's FDA approval; they want companies to get their own approval. This is very complicated and costly for a business outside of Canada to do business within Canada.
"This is especially true of our product, which is purchased just once every few years and only by women. It can be bought and shipped to an address outside of Canada but cannot be directly bought and shipped to Canada. Canadian authorities used to recognize and accept it but now want businesses to apply for all the necessary paperwork from Health Canada, which means we have double the fees. They want to do what our FDA has already done and charge us again. It used to be that both countries worked with each other, separate but equal. Now it is separate-separate."
Now then, about latex. "There is natural and synthetic latex," says Carlyle Jansen from Good for Her. "The Keeper claims to be made of natural gum rubber so no need to worry about leached chemicals."
Good for Her, and many health food stores across Canada, carry the DivaCup.
"The company has medical device licences with both the FDA and Health Canada," says Jansen. The -DivaCup is silicone so it can be cleaning by boiling but doesn't retain its clear colour. Jansen says the company chose not to use dyes for health reasons. The Keeper, with its rusty orange tint, looks "cleaner" over time, or more to the point, looks gross to begin with and doesn't look worse with regular use.
I loved the DivaCup but had one problem with it: after a couple of years mine smelled like the shithouse door of a shrimp boat and still does, even though I haven't used it in months, always boiled it and cleaned it with a mild vinegar solution.
Jansen thinks the DivaCup's suggestion to replace it once a year is a disclaimer "because it is a personal hygiene product. I used to recommend cleaning it with basic hand soap (which also goes for The Keeper) but so many now have oil in them and should not be mixed with latex or silicone. I recommend clear hand soap. I believe the DivaCup folks assume that their product may get oil on it from cleaning from time to time since users don't always know what's in their soap. But if you use the Diva Wash (also pH-balanced for vaginas) or a basic glycerine soap, your DivaCup should last a good 10 years."
If you can handle the stank, that is. Holy fuck. Seriously. Anybody else encounter this problem? How did you deal with it?