Periods are not rainbows and sunshine—we get it. But PLEASE don’t resort to using a vacuum hose to try to suck the last bits of menstrual blood out of your vagina, per one nurse’s viral tweet from last night that has since been made private:
The tweet reads:
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!
This is incredibly jarring, and as a journalist, I’m not quite sure where to begin. Reading through the comments of the thread, it seems like the women in question tried to use the suction hose of the vacuum to try to suck the remaining blood out of their uteruses in an attempt to stop their natural bleeding.
The author of the original viral tweet later adds that instead of ending their periods early, they wound up with shock instead and had to go the hospital for care.
The original tweeter did not respond to a request for comment to elaborate further, but TBH, we have a LOT of questions. So we asked Adeeti Gupta, MD, a board-certified ob-gyn and founder of Walk In GYN Care, why anyone would try this.
While Dr. Gupta says it’s not common to see this sort of injury often, she has seen shock occur in similar situations before. And Kirsten Bechtel, MD, a Yale Medicine pediatric emergency-medicine doctor and codirector of injury prevention, explains that there are many risk factors around using a vacuum in your vagina.
For instance, putting the hard plastic end of a vacuum up yourself can put you at risk of perforating your uterus, says Dr. Bechtel. And depending on the intensity of the suction, “part of the vaginal or uterine wall can be sucked in, tear, bleed, perforate, or cause an infection (pelvic inflammatory disease) by forcing bacteria on the outside of the perineum into the uterus.” Yikes.
Even worse, if any woman trying this method takes her cleaning too far, she’s more likely to increase her risk of perforation or laceration of her vagina or uterus.
As for the shock that the nurse said the patients went into, “Shock can happen either due to severe vaginal injuries leading to blood loss,” Dr. Gupta explains, “or it’s due to a stimulation of the nerves in that region, which can cause the body to go into a neurogenic shock.”
Also, for what it’s worth, you can’t “suck out” the uterine lining that naturally sheds when you have your period. “It’s shed due to carefully controlled declines in hormone levels (estrogen, progesterone), which causes a controlled bleed (menses) that the body can tolerate much more effectively than trying to suck it out with a vacuum.
Replying to the viral Twitter thread, Jen Gunter, MD, a celeb ob-gyn and author of the upcoming book The Vagina Bible, asked if it was an attempt to induce an at-home abortion, to which the original Tweeter has not responded.
As others mention in the thread, using the menstrual extraction technique was something women used to perform during at-home abortions pre-Roe v. Wade.
As far as the details of these instances go, it seems that the women’s intent were simply to end their periods early, which is incredibly dangerous for a number of reasons.
Bottom line: “It’s a terrible, unsafe idea that can lead to severe vaginal injuries and infections,” says Dr. Gupta. “Menstrual bleeding is an active and natural process. It’s not just sitting in the uterus in a pool that can be sucked out. Please don’t even think about it.”