- On Wednesday, a viral tweet said two women were hospitalized after using household vacuums to remove their period blood.
- INSIDER was unable to confirm the contents of the tweet, but it caused gynecologists to weigh in the on the situation.
- The gynecologists pointed out that the technique is similar to an at-home abortion method.
- Menstrual extraction is a controversial method developed in the early 1970s that allowed women to use a syringe and container to terminate their pregnancies at home.
- Gynecologists warn women against performing menstrual extractions because they can cause infections, sepsis, and even death.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.
When someone claiming to be a nurse tweeted about two women who reportedly landed in the hospital for using household vacuums to extract their period blood, the internet responded in collective horror over the concept.
Ladies… Please stop using your vacuum hose to end your period early. You're gonna wind up sucking out a lot more than blood! There were 2 cases of this so far this week and both women had to be admitted. Just… STOP! ????????
— Twinny ???????? (@OdesseyT99) June 5, 2019
“Ladies…please stop using your vacuum hose to end your period early. You’re gonna wind up sucking out a lot more than blood! There were 2 cases of this so far this week and both women had to be admitted,” the tweet read.
INSIDER was unable to confirm whether the events actually occurred, but regardless, the post started a conversation related to recent abortion bans.
Gynecologists suggested it was possible these women were actually attempting at-home abortions.
I’m sorry, what??? Why would anyone even think to do such a thing? ????????????????????????????????????
— ???? (@BougieVyntage) June 6, 2019
I had to read it three times because I was like 'I must not have read that right.'
— Jamie ???? (@JamieFiorito) June 6, 2019
“Was this done as a home abortion?” gynecologist Dr. Jen Gunter tweeted.
Gynecologist Dr. Donnica Moore noted the vacuum cleaner idea could have been an outgrowth of an older at-home abortion practice known as menstrual extraction.
“This concept-gone-wrong may be based on a practice called “Menstrual Extraction,” ostensibly done pre-Roe for ‘menstrual regulation,’ but actually done as an early home vacuum aspiration abortion,” Dr. Moore tweeted. “But you’re not supposed to use a vacuum cleaner!!!”
Menstrual extraction was invented in the early 1970s as a way for women to administer their own abortions
The method was created in the early 1970s in an attempt to revolutionize abortion techniques, according to Women’s Health Specialists of California, since it created a minimally invasive and inexpensive away to terminate pregnancies.
In 1971, women’s rights activist Evelyn Lorraine Rothman created at-home kits based on the technique, called Del-Em Kits, according to The Embryo Project at Arizona State University. These kits were circulated first as ways to help women end their periods early, then women started to also use them to perform at-home abortions in the pre-Roe v. Wade era.
A menstrual extraction involves using a syringe to suction the uterine lining and blood out of a woman’s body. A 1980 paper in the Journal of Family Practice described this technique as something that could be performed in a doctor’s office for pregnancies that were seven weeks along or less.
“It is an easily performed procedure which, when compared to the presently available avenues for abortion, offers significant advantages in cost, diminished morbidity, and the opportunity for continuity of care by the primary physician,” the authors wrote, citing that it was successful in 99% of the patients they treated.
But abortion techniques have advanced since then, and when someone does a menstrual extraction on her own, either in an attempt to end a period or terminate a pregnancy, it can result in life-threatening complications, Dr. Moore said.
Forcibly removing menstrual blood from the uterus can have life-threatening health consequences
“You’re introducing something into the uterus,” Dr. Moore said. “Things are supposed to go out, not come in. Anytime that happens, we worry about infection.”
The same is true for other dangerous DIY abortion methods, such as inserting coat hangers into the uterus.
Coat hanger abortions, menstrual extractions, and any other method that involves putting an object inside of the uterus could result in serious consequences, including excessive bleeding, hemorrhage, sepsis, and death, according to Dr. Moore.
Even if a woman is using menstrual extraction just to remove period blood, Dr. Moore advises against it. “If your periods are that bothersome you need them to go away quicker, you should talk to your doctor about safe medical alternatives,” she said. “I implore people not to do this.”
Abortion bans could push women to increasingly seek unsafe methods for pregnancy termination
Starting in April, governors from Ohio, Missouri, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, and Alabama signed restrictive abortion bans, many that, if passed, would stop women from getting abortions if they are more than six weeks pregnant.
Many of these bills are being challenged in court, but it’s possible that legislation could push some women to seek unsafe abortion methods.
“I’m not just concerned about six-weeks laws, but also those that are causing more and more abortion providers to go out of business,” Dr. Moore told INSIDER. “[That means] in many states women don’t have a single abortion provider in hours drives of their homes.”
- Read more:
- Ruth Bader Ginsburg went head-to-head against Clarence Thomas over his antiabortion stance
- The Supreme Court upheld an Indiana law that requires aborted fetuses to be buried, and experts say it’s a dark sign for abortion rights
- Before Roe v. Wade, desperate women used coat hangers, Coke bottles, Clorox, and sticks in attempted abortions