Vaginal Speculum for Applying Leeches

Made:
1801-1830 in France
maker:
Unknown
Gilbert vaginal speculum, metal, French, early 19th century.
      Full 3/4 view, graduated matt black perspex background. Gilbert vaginal speculum, metal, French, early 19th century.
      Full view, high viewpoint. Graduated matt black perspex

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Gilbert vaginal speculum, metal, French, early 19th century. Full 3/4 view, graduated matt black perspex background.
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Gilbert vaginal speculum, metal, French, early 19th century. Full view, high viewpoint. Graduated matt black perspex
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Guilbert 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. 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
Collection:
Sir Henry Wellcome's Museum Collection
Object Number:
A38408
type:
vaginal speculum
taxonomy:
  • furnishing and equipment
  • tools & equipment
  • medical instrument
  • speculum