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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Safer Sex & Birth Control » Cervical barriers: why does it have to be SO hard?

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Author Topic: Cervical barriers: why does it have to be SO hard?
-Lauren-
Activist
Member # 25983

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I got a beef with the makers of prescription barrier devices. They've, like, all disappeared, within a few months, along with the spermicide that goes with them.

Lea's Shield? Gone.

Ortho Coil Spring? Gone.

Ortho Arching Spring? After a revamp is available, but only if you're lucky enough to fit into 4 lower sizes.

Milex Silicone? Remains an option, IF you find a doctor who will both fit you (increasingly rare) and order the thing for you, since it's not available through pharmacies or direct-to-consumer except in some places abroad.

Gynol II, the only barrier jelly I've seen on store shelves? Discontinued.

It's not clear if any are still available. Most users I've seen around have had to use alternative lactic-acid gels ordered from Germany.

There is a replacement for Gynol II available in Europe called Gygel, but it is available in only 30 gram tubes for 7 pounds! Ridiculous.


This is kind of a personal beef of mine, too. It turns out diaphragms just aren't "done" in Scandanavia, so I've had to resort to looking through midwifery books on how to fit my own, the most common sizes, etc. Luckily I found a cheap source for diaphragms in the UK, so I'll be able to experiment on my own with the sizing. But c'mon, why the hell do I have to fit myself, much less scramble to hell and back desperate to find a spermicide to use?

How might one take action? This is a pretty horrifying trend to be honest, taking away the one affordable, natural option available to women.

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strumpet
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Tell me about it, I got a milex silicone diaphragm about 6 months ago and had to order gynol from the states. Don't know what I'll do about spermicide now! Bah. Keeping my ear to the ground.
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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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You know, I'm afraid that you have to bear the market in mind with all of this. In other words, if women are not buying them, we can't expect manufacturers to keep making them.

Mind, there are plenty of things not helping here, such as the reluctance of many healthcare providers to inform women about cervical barrier methods or be supportive of women who want them. But all the same, less demand = less supply, and that's just how it goes with anything, including methods of contraception.

I would not, for the record, advise experimenting on one's own with sizing a diaphragm. I say this in part from a really crappy experience of once having a healthcare provider who said she didn't know how to fit me, but would help me do it myself in her office. Having used barriers for so long, and having only ever had a change in my size by one size over, I gave it a try. (I think I also felt like if she felt that was fine, it must be: very uncharacteristically stupid of me, really.) There simply is not the leverage for a user to be able to tell if a fit is right oneself. Unfortunately, I found this out the hard way with that one, almost immediately with its use, after never having had a pregnancy with diaphragm use for years and years. Fortunately for me -- who did not want to become pregnant -- my pregnancy didn't complete.

At the very least, if you are using a sound reference on how to fit them, have a second party help you with that who can feel, with their fingers, from an outside angle, how the diaphragm is sitting in the back of your vagina.

(The FemCap, for the record, does not need to be fit. It only comes in three sizes based on reproductive history. So, if you're going to DIY, I'd suggest that one instead.)

I do think providers can be found to fit them, it just involves either finding a truly women-centered clinic or calling around. That sucks, but I'd say it's a lot better than trying to fit oneself fruitlessly. And if getting the barriers as it is, or the spermicides for them, is nigh unto impossible, then it only makes so much sense to bother anyway.

I'm not unsympathetic to this, mind you. I have been using diaphragms on and off for almost two decades now. It'd be a bummer to not have them available to me anymore, but on the other hand, I have never done male partners who aren't perfectly and gladly willing to use condoms, either with my barrier, or at times I don't want to use my barrier, so it may be that from a personal vantage point, I'm a bit more relaxed about this than I would be were that different for me.

But I also have watched how these things go with the market: a whole lot of women really loved contraceptive sponges in the states, too, and I remember how many women were upset when those went away here.

What can you do about it? Well, you can certainly send letters to the manufacturers expressing your feelings, and also talk to providers about barriers and how they handle them when you visit. Maybe research and write a piece somewhere (ST would publish it, but something more mainstream might be even better) about all of this, too.

(Edited to add that I have a bit of a problem with cervical barriers being stated to be the only "natural" and affordable option for women. There are other non-hormonal options which are also affordable: male and female condoms, FAM, even withdrawal. Just please be careful with those kinds of statements, as they can tend to induce undue panic, you know?)

[ 07-06-2009, 10:09 AM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Beckylein
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Bah, you're telling me! I still don't have one because there is absolutely nobody else in town that knows how to fit them. How do I know? I've called EVERY single doctor's office in the phonebook and spoken to the nurse. One doctor I saw for something else suggested I fit it myself at home. He said loads of women do it. Because his English was far from fluent, I have no idea if he actually knew what I was even talking about, so obviously, I didn't fit myself. I refuse to go back to PP because I felt totally violated with my experience there. I have no words of advice, just commiseration. I'll be waiting until I move back west to get one re-fitted. HOPEFULLY there will be someone in the greater Vancouver area that will be able to fit me. Sorry to hear you're also struggling with it [Frown]

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"Dance like nobody's watching; love like you've never been hurt; sing like nobody's listening; live like it's heaven on earth." ~Mark Twain

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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Becky: my suggestion for finding a good OB/GYN to meet your needs in or around Vancouver would be to use the Vancouver Women's health Collective referral service: http://www.womenshealthcollective.ca/aboutdir.html

You can be very specific in your form about what you're looking for.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Beckylein
Activist
Member # 33869

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Awesome link, Heather! Thanks so much [Smile] I'm definitely bookmarking it for when we move next year.

(As a total aside, I love how they have an info section on there called "Titbits ... Useful and Concise Information on Women and Health"...cracks me up.)

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"Dance like nobody's watching; love like you've never been hurt; sing like nobody's listening; live like it's heaven on earth." ~Mark Twain

Posts: 59 | From: Canada | Registered: May 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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