Best Health



The device used in routine gynecologi­cal exams to inspect the cervix has barely evolved since American physician James Marion

Sims designed one back in the s. Sims was a plantation doctor who used his speculum to pioneer treatments for fistula and other childbirth complicati­ons, and he often experiment­ed on women who were enslaved. His contraptio­n was made of pewter; today, it’s stainless steel or plastic. Other than that, not much about the speculum has changed. It still makes a jarring noise when engaged (like a wonky can opener), it’s still a rude temperatur­e (like an ice cube) and it still induces that horrible feeling of being stretched wide open (like, why?). There have been— and are still!—attempts to modernize it, but in the meantime, women have to tango with -year-old tech.

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