An instrument that casts a shadow over the practice of gynecological examination: Speculum
In a study conducted with 176 women in Palestine, it was revealed that 81% of women felt pain and 68% felt discomfort during gynecological examination. Let's take a closer look at the 'speculum', one of the usual suspects that directly or indirectly causes these high rates and casts a shadow over modern gynecological examination practice.
Speculum is a tool made of metal that allows the cervix to be seen, the vaginal walls and the vagina to be examined by placing it in the vaginal canal during vaginal examinations. There are also plastic, disposable versions; but the frightening appearance of the speculum, which we have also read is described as a "can opener for the vagina" and which is one of the reasons many people avoid gynecological examinations, undoubtedly comes from its cold and metallic presence.
What if we told you that the facts behind this device are even more frightening than itself?
American James Marion Sims, who invented the vaginal speculum, was a "physician" who performed gruesome experiments and surgical procedures on black slave women without administering anesthesia. He is still referred to today as the "father of modern gynecology", despite the people he hurt and killed.
In short, the speculum is an instrument designed 200 years ago by someone who does not have a vagina, without considering the comfort of the patient, and its design has hardly changed since its invention.
Don't worry, over the last decade many people have realized that this is unacceptable and are trying to improve the design of the speculum. However, the conservatism of the established order and the stubbornness of those who "have come and gone" stand in the face of these different groups, which set out with the dream of an empathic and ergonomic design that puts the patient in the center.
Happily, more and more women are entering the field of gynecology every day, and we hope they will all be the catalyst for change.