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Please, Don't Use a Vacuum Cleaner to End Your Period Early

We spoke to a gynaecologist about "menstrual extractions".

by Nana Baah
07 June 2019, 8:30am

Periods are notoriously inconvenient. Cramps that leave you curled up in the foetal position, clutching a hot water bottle and popping those period-specific pain killers. Or, ruining the only nice bed sheets you have (see also: underwear), and of course, knowing you’re contributing to climate change by going back to tampons because your boyfriend refuses to help fish a MoonCup out of you again.

But what if you could stop your period in its tracks? What if, after a 20-minute "procedure", you could be period-free until the next cycle, when you can just do the procedure again? There are already ways to stop your period from coming, like taking birth control pills back-to-back. But what if there was a technique you could use to not stop it entirely, but at least speed it up – a technique involving a common household appliance?

An exceptionally cursed tweet, posted by a woman with "I'm a nurse" in her Twitter bio, claims that two women have been admitted to the hospital she works at after going into shock because they used a vacuum hose to end their periods early.

Now, this sounds quite made up – and it could be; it's just a viral tweet, not a medical paper – but it turns out that "menstrual extraction" really was once a thing. Originally intended for women who were unable to access legal abortions in the 1970s, the process involved a cannula and a syringe, which pumped the contents of your uterus straight out of you. Now, though, some women have supposedly decided to DIY it, replacing the medical equipment with the humble home vacuum cleaner.

I emailed the tweet to Dr Shazia Malik, an obstetrician and gynaecologist at The Portland Hospital for Women and Children in London. She called me back almost immediately to answer the all-important question: is putting a Dyson inside your vagina a good idea? (Reader, it is not.)

VICE: Hi Dr. Malik. So... it’s a bit of a weird one, isn’t it?
Dr Shazia Malik: Yes, I'm completely surprised by it.

Have you heard of people practicing “menstrual extraction”?
I’ve been working in obstetrics and gynaecology for over 20 years and I have never heard of it happening.

Okay, but could it actually work?
No, it wouldn’t. Menstrual blood comes from the womb lining, so hoovering or putting anything in the vagina wouldn’t change the length of your period. The amount of blood that comes out would be the same as what you’d get on a tampon or pad. You can’t speed it up.

Would using a vacuum be unsafe?
It would be completely unsafe. Not just unsafe, but downright dangerous.

What could happen to you?
You could damage the surface of your vagina, and you could risk bleeding or infection. You can imagine the germs on the end of your vacuum cleaner and the power of its suction. You could end up with genital trauma. You could damage your cervix and end up in excruciating pain.

So, bottom line is, putting a hoover inside of you is always a bad idea?
Yes! I would definitely caution anyone who is thinking about trying it.

Thanks, Dr Malik!

@nanasbaah