Menstrual extraction is something most people have never heard of. It is a simple suction technique used to remove the menstrual blood from the uterus on the first day of menstruation. It can remove a fertilized egg from the uterus. It has been used by women who wish to shorten the duration of their bleeding; female athletes, travelers, honeymooners. It can be used as a life saving technique as documented by one midwife who found herself in the middle of a severe winter storm with a client who had just miscarried and was bleeding heavily. She was unable to transport the woman to the hospital due to road conditions and the ambulance was unable to get through for the same reason. A menstrual extraction was preformed, removing the rest of the retained tissue and the uterus was able to clamp down and slow the bleeding to an acceptable level.
It is technically similar to an early termination abortion, except menstrual extractions rarely done by doctors or nurses, it isn't part of their training. It is usually done by an experienced group of women, as a home-care procedure in order to gain knowledge about their bodies and menstrual cycles and to exert more direct control over their reproductive cycles. Many of these self-help groups start out learning about their bodies, they look at their cervixes, talk about birth control and what to do when birth control fails.
The procedure is very safe, in reality it can be safer than a clinical abortion, when done correctly by a group with experience. Safer because the extraction can happen when the period is due. There is no waiting for weeks as in a clinical abortion. Due to the early timing the cervix does not need to be dilated (forced open) because the smallest size canula can be used. The contents of the uterus are gently sucked out, there is no cutting or scraping of the uterine wall necessary. The contents consist of mostly blood, chorionic villi and some tissue, the amount of tissue depends on how far along the pregnancy is, the rapidly dividing cell structure is still to small to be seen.
Because the cervix is not dilated this means technically it is safe (but not advisable) to take a bath, to make love or to use a tampon. After a clinical abortion, if you do any of these things it could give you a nasty uterine infection, which is why they give women anti-biotics after a clinical abortion. When the cervix is dilated the trap door of the cervix is unable to close to protect the uterus from the outside world.
There are no drugs given. Allowing the woman to stay in touch with what is happening to her body. She is in control. She can stop at any time to take a break. The whole process could take an hour, or up to 3 hours. For every woman it is different. For some women it is mildly uncomfortable, and other women experience more severe cramping, nausea, or dizziness, the experience is different for each woman.
Menstrual extractions can be done safely up to 8-9 weeks from the last menstrual period. The sooner it is done the less intense it is physically, it can be done when menstruation is due, up until 8-9 weeks from the last menstrual period. After 9 weeks the tissue is too large for the canulas used in the ME kits. The risk of incomplete extraction can occur thus increasing the risk for possible hemorrhage or infection.
This is a very basic outline about menstrual extraction. If you would like to learn more, I would highly recommend reading A Woman's Book of Choices by Rebecca Chalker, I just came across an article written by Rebecca. Other books to check out if you are interested in learning more about women's bodies, self-help groups and menstrual extractions.
Article by Rebecca Chalker The Whats, Hows, and Whys of Menstrual Extraction.
Unfortunately finding a menstrual extraction is difficult. It is an underground technique, barely legal in some states, falling into grey areas in others. Women who know how to do them don't advertise. Working only by word of mouth, basically you have to know someone, or be very lucky. Menstrual extraction was taught during the 70's by women in the feminist movement. Good places to start looking are feminist health centers, and lay-midwives. Start by asking if they've ever heard of menstrual extraction, if they have you are doing good, you will find most have never heard of it. If you have interest in learning how to do them, consider signing up for a women's self-help group. For your own information, menstrual extractions are physically impossible to do on yourself. If you would like information on building your own kit, I suggest the book by Rebecca Chalker.
If you would like to know more about self-help groups, read this page. If you are interested in joining or forming a group in your area, or learning how to do menstrual extractions, follow the above link.
There are some clinics in the NYC area that offer the Aspiration Proceedure, which is essentially the same as a menstrual extraction, there is no cutting and scraping, it can be done early, its quick, with minimal discomfort
Early Options An Abortion Clinic in NYC specalizing in early abortion. They offer the aspiration proceedure. Friendly professional staff, and they're working on opening more clinics and other areas. I'd love to see more offices/clinics like this around the country.