? ?
10 January 2009 @ 06:37 pm
Some of you may remember a few weeks ago the "Alicia menstrual pod" came to the attention of this board, and I undertook to make some enquiries, since the "inventor" seemed to be an Australian. Well, I finally got an email back and thought you all might be interested. Also I would like your input, as some of this sounds a bit strange to me.

1) She may be an Australian, but she is apparently living in India and having the cup manufactured there.

2) She says she plans to focus on selling the Alicia in the 3rd world "to stop infections due to poor quality menstrual products". This strikes me as being a bit odd - I have never heard that this is an issue in the 3rd world. I thought TSS was a 1st-world tampon associated problem.

3) This will therefore be the cheapest cup on the market, at AUD30 each or AUD60 for two.

4) She wants to make the extra-small and extra-large cups because she says that in the 3rd world where women squat their pelvic floors are tighter, and after lots and lots of babies their pelvic floors can be looser, and she wants to cover all the bases.

5) She does not plan to market her cups at all in the "Western World" and so I don't think she has (or plans to get) them through either the FDA or TGA - this wasn't quite clear in the email.

6) She has offered to sell me one if I want it, but I don't think I do. I already have a Lunette and a GreenCup, both of which I really like, so this was just a curiosity thing. If anyone in Australia wants one I can get you the contact details to arrange this, but they aren't available on the open market, apparently, and there are no plans to do this.

Any other vital info anyone wants about this?
justuschickens on January 10th, 2009 10:19 am (UTC)
unsanitary menstrual products in this case might mean dirty rags -- even if you didn't get TSS, you can definitely get other vaginal infections from having dirty rags near your vagina. :-/ It sounds like a good plan. Clean menstrual products are very hard to access in a lot of the third world.
sjez on June 21st, 2010 05:03 pm (UTC)
Yes, pelvic inflammatory disease is prevalent in third world countries where dirty rags are used to soak up menstrual flow.
directorgirl on January 10th, 2009 10:22 am (UTC)
I also got a reply back from her and it sounds like it was pretty much the same. This is what she said "The reason I am not know is I am only selling to 3rd world governments and
charities for 3rd world women in need.
The reason for site saying first new product in 40 years is for this
market. To these women that is how it is and they have never heard of
I have papers looking at site to inform the 3rd word market, hence that is
the story for them.
I am not really interested in western world, so hence done no marketing
into it at all.
I have a medical background and am all about stopping infections with
these women who suffer much from poor quality menstrual products let
alonea cost they cannot afford, hence it saves the governments to purchase
from me instead of buying products monthly or treating problems."

I say fair enough. Hope she is actually helping some women who wouldn't normally have this option.
Lost: quote - I'm just making it upgypsy_owl on January 10th, 2009 10:39 am (UTC)
Slightly unrelated, but that is almost painful to read. All the 'hence's that she has. Can we get a 'thus' or 'therefore' now and again please?

And personal opinion, not that this woman seems to have any interest in it, it would seem like if she tries to actually sell it, she could easily use the profit from mass market sales to help get these products free to those women more in need, or getting them other highly needed items. ... Or maybe I'm missing something key there... There may be a very good reason she doesn't want people looking too closely at the one she's made.
(no subject) - lintilla on January 10th, 2009 12:16 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - lougolas on January 10th, 2009 05:20 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - lintilla on January 10th, 2009 11:29 pm (UTC) (Expand)
mushu_star on January 10th, 2009 10:32 am (UTC)
I was curious about this one after reading it on the forum so thanks heaps for clearing it up for us!

I have heard that the women in developing (we can't call them '3rd world' anymore, politically incorrect!)countries are still struggling with sanitary products and some still use dried leaves and old newspapers.

My one concern though, is that the cup is an 'internal' device and so if it is not sterilised properly you are actually introducing more harmful bacteria, viruses and parasites to an area that was otherwise clear of these. At least leaves/newspaper/rags are external and the natural menstruation fluids can still flow down and 'wash' the area out.

To introduce the cup to developing countries would certainly give women more freedom during their period, but at what cost health-wise? I think she really needs to check the sanitation issues are in place first before launching her cups.
buzzboomsplatbuzzboomsplat on January 10th, 2009 11:31 am (UTC)
My one concern though, is that the cup is an 'internal' device and so if it is not sterilised properly you are actually introducing more harmful bacteria, viruses and parasites to an area that was otherwise clear of these

This. As much as I love my Lunette, I would not use it if I didn't have access to clean water to wash my hands before inserting it, and my cup whenever I needed to wash it, and if I didn't have access to facilities to wash rags, I don't think I'd be able to do the former either.

I really wish I knew more about how wom*n in the developing world handle periods. I think I'm going to do some research!
(no subject) - mushu_star on January 10th, 2009 01:08 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - elizabby on January 10th, 2009 09:40 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - buzzboomsplat on January 11th, 2009 03:12 am (UTC) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
Re: Menstrual products in developing countries - buzzboomsplat on January 11th, 2009 01:30 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - acrophilia on January 10th, 2009 08:16 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - xchaosbutterfly on January 11th, 2009 04:54 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - elizabby on January 11th, 2009 10:05 pm (UTC) (Expand)
indigo_dawnindigo_dawn on January 10th, 2009 12:08 pm (UTC)
I'd have to wonder how women with access to only poor quality menstrual products are going to be able to afford the AU$30 for a cup. Backman did say marketing, not donating.
leia149 on January 10th, 2009 01:23 pm (UTC)
I'm thinking and hoping it means marketing to organizations or governments who can fund the purchases.

And the sanitation concern also bothers me. I do think a cup would be relatively ideal for less developed area, as it is a one time expense and there is not continued waste. However, lack of access to clean water and ways to clean it is a concern. I guess dirty stream water + milton tablets just might do the trick......but then you need the tablets all the time. (I never used them so I haven't had any experiences).
Another possible concern with internal protection is the cultural significance of an intact hymen in some places. If their culture basically requires women to be virgins before marriage, the insertion of the cup could cause social complications.

On another note, if there was an organization started to distribute cups to developing countries, I'd totally donate. I think I'd need to see their solution for cleaning the cups to avoid infection first....
(no subject) - buzzboomsplat on January 10th, 2009 02:25 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - mushu_star on January 10th, 2009 10:58 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - elizabby on January 11th, 2009 02:08 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - crochetaduck on January 11th, 2009 06:29 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - elizabby on January 11th, 2009 10:08 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - winterthunder on January 10th, 2009 05:59 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - leia149 on January 10th, 2009 06:35 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - elizabby on January 10th, 2009 09:44 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - winterthunder on January 11th, 2009 01:50 am (UTC) (Expand)
buzzboomsplatbuzzboomsplat on January 10th, 2009 02:26 pm (UTC)
I'm quite sceptical about this cup but I love that it's called a menstrual pod. :D
elizabbyelizabby on January 11th, 2009 02:10 am (UTC)
Curious comment - why do you like the "pod" particularly? I think "cup" is a better descriptor, and has the advantage of being in general use and better understood. IMO, this is a ploy to make it look like a new invention.
(no subject) - buzzboomsplat on January 11th, 2009 03:15 am (UTC) (Expand)
newselenenewselene on January 10th, 2009 03:02 pm (UTC)
All the comments about risks of infection and broken hymen make a lot of sense.
I went to the Alicia site : http://thealiciainternational.com/products-alicia.html and I wonder how come there is no actual photo of the product, there are just drawings. Is the cup/pod in developping stage?
elizabbyelizabby on January 10th, 2009 09:45 pm (UTC)
Well, she offered to sell me one, so she must have at least one! The website is apparently very old, and she doesn't plan to update it as she doesn't mean to sell the cups to individuals, only large organizations.
(no subject) - winterthunder on January 11th, 2009 01:56 am (UTC) (Expand)
scarletwildfire on January 10th, 2009 05:06 pm (UTC)
I agree with everyone else's comments... it seems she has great intentions - but I wonder about the practicality.

Also, from the quoted part of her e-mail it sounds to me that English might be a second language for her. That could also explain what we consider to be factual errors in her website are more like "translation errors" where the extra detail just wasn't put in place properly.

Some part of me wants to help on her website development and her customer service side. *sigh* there's never enough time in the day.
elizabbyelizabby on January 10th, 2009 09:46 pm (UTC)
Nah, she's an Australian and used to host a radio show. Whatever her issues, English isn't one of them.
(no subject) - scarletwildfire on January 10th, 2009 10:38 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - lintilla on January 10th, 2009 11:32 pm (UTC) (Expand)
ladycontentladycontent on January 11th, 2009 12:34 am (UTC)
I know you probably don't mean anything by it, but I just feel that I have to mention it. I'm not sure I agree with referring to developing countries as a "third world" nation. It's quite the loaded phrase with, in my opinion at least, a negative connotation. In many cases, these developing nations are only in the development phases because they've been exploited by the so called developed world. That, however, is a discussion for a different time.

Not trying to stir the pot, just had to add my two cents :) .
elizabbyelizabby on January 11th, 2009 02:12 am (UTC)
Correction noted - I should have changed this but I didn't - I just copied out her email as it arrived in my inbox. (Again, surely if she is working and living in India this is something *she* should be aware of, even if others are not?)
Chibitsukichibi on January 11th, 2009 05:34 am (UTC)
Maybe it's just me, and I may have been hanging out around customers_suck too much, but I really want to call shenanigans on this woman. Her plan just sounds too unrealistic. Looking at her website, many things don't feel right about it. I mean, these women most likely don't have access to the internet, so why is she still calling it "the first cup"? Her website is very outdated, so it just seems suspicious to me. I personally think her plan is either a) about saving face in an idea gone bust, or b) an idea she might do someday, but hasn't put any thought whatsoever into.
indigo_dawn: holdacancerianindigo_dawn on January 11th, 2009 06:57 pm (UTC)
Backman got the Alicia cup FDA approved.

elizabbyelizabby on January 11th, 2009 10:11 pm (UTC)
Interesting to note that it is approved on the basis of being a "menstrual cup" which is in the same category as the Moon Cup (US). No mention of it being a new invention called a "pod" in the application!

I also notice that it wasn't her name on the application. Presumably she has someone else doing the paperwork for her. Maybe she is just the figurehead for this whole idea? That might explain why she seems to know so little about it all.
Obsidianpurple_obsidian on January 12th, 2009 05:06 am (UTC)
For what it's worth - I do believe some women in developing countries use rags and things internally as well as externally, as I have heard that infections due to this sort of thing are common....

but I don't think cups are going to be much help there, because it's as much a problem with the lack of suitable products as the lack of hygiene and the lack of sanitation...

The price factor will be an issue too.... In some places women aren't using tampons even though they are available, because they are too expensive... so I can't see anyone who is in need of one, being able to afford to buy one, and I can't see many aid organisations willing to pay $30 each for them..

Its all a bit interesting..... :)