Vaginal speculum, France, 1801-1830

Made:
1801-1830 in France
maker:
Unknown

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Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Gilbert vaginal speculum, metal, French, early 19th century

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.

Details

Category:
Clinical Diagnosis
Object Number:
A38408
type:
vaginal speculum
taxonomy:
  • furnishing and equipment
  • tools & equipment
  • medical instrument
  • speculum
status:
Loan: Wellcome Trust

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