ok so last night habibi and i decided to experiment with a del-em after the baby had gone to sleep.
what is a del-em?
In 1971, a member of a feminist women's reproductive health self-help group, Lorraine Rothman, modified equipment found in an underground abortion clinic that was developed for a new non-traumatic, manually-operated-suction abortion technique. Rothman took the thin, flexible plastic Karman cannula (about the size of a soda straw), and the syringe (50 or 60ml), and added a one-way bypass valve, to fix two main problems. The contraption could allow air to be pumped into the uterus, and also suctioned uterine contents directly into the syringe, thus limiting the amount that could be removed. Rothman's and Downer's group dubbed Lorraine's new invention the "Del Em." Lorraine added two lengths of clear plastic tubing, one from the cannula to the collection jar and another to go from the collection jar to the syringe. With this new set-up, the contents of the uterus went directly into the jar, allowing for the extraction of more material, and the two-way bypass valve diverted any air that may have been inadvertently pushed back toward the body to exit harmlessly into the air; this would prevent air from entering the uterus. By making it possible for more than one person to operate the device, the skill level of the operators was greatly reduced. One woman could concentrate on guiding the sterile cannula through the vaginal cavity into the cervical os while another could pump the syringe to develop the vacuum. The Del Em made the procedure more comfortable for women, who could themselves control the suction. Or, a third woman could stand by the woman's side, explaining what was going on, or handing her a mirror to watch the material coming down the tubing.
so, for the past month or so, habibi and i have been collecting the items necessary to build a del-em of our very own. habibi has been going to medical supply stores, asking for things such as: uterine catheters, speculum, syringe...ahem... ( i thought it would be best if he went and asked because he has this white boy thing going for him, so they would never suspect that he might be attempting to do something not so legal...like abortions...) so, i was on the second day of my period. and we figured we would try it out.
we decided to try it during the beginning of my period because the cervix would be a little bit open letting the blood out of the uterus, and thus it would be easier to get a cannula into the uterus. plus, i would be well lubricated. plus, there would be actual blood to suck out and not just whitish uterine contents...
our del-em pretty much looks like the picture above with the same equipment.
the main differences being that we used a plastic jar with a plastic top rather than a glass jar with a rubber top (couldnt find mason jars for some odd reason) and habibi had to rig a one way valve from a plastic bike pump and attach it to the syringe. also, we used a pink condom on top of the one way valve/syringe to help control the airpressure because there is a funky hole near the tip of the syringe. (i wish we had taken pictures of the syringe/condom/valve...it was interesting...)
results: we were unsuccessful at sucking the menses blood out of my uterus. because the adhesive that we used to attach the tubing wasnt strong enough and let air out. thus we didnt get the suctioning power we needed.
future: we are going to re-work the del-em model. we learned so much from the experiment. ways to simplify the process.
habibi learned how to use a speculum, which was a crucial part of the process.
need to get a rubber top with a glass jar. then we dont need to use adhesive to hold the tubing into the top.
also, need to get a lamp with a flexible neck. when it is just the two of us, and only four hands, holding a flashlight becomes a real hassle. having an extra person would be really really helpful...
anyways, check out the pics below.
and our plan is to do this next month with improved equip!