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Vaginal speculum, France, 1801-1830

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Leeches were applied to the cervix using this vaginal speculum. This was a popular treatment for gynaecological problems. Bloodsucking leeches were introduced into the body cavity. They were removed when they became engorged. A vaginal speculum examines inside the vagina. This helps medical diagnosis. It can also assist treating that area of the body. Specula examinations caused controversy in the 1800s over male doctors performing such an intimate examination on women.This French example used a scissor-like action to expand the funnel. This locked open freeing the physician’s hands. By 1830, leeches were such a popular treatment demand outstripped supply. Leeches are still used in medicine following plastic and reconstructive surgery. They help restore blood flow and circulation.

Object number:

A38408

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Glossary:

Glossary: vaginal speculum

Instrument for dilating the vagina, and throwing light within thus facilitating examination or surgical operations

Glossary: gynaecology

A branch of medicine dealing with the treatment of disorders affecting the female reproductive system.