Vaginal Speculum for Applying Leeches

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

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Gilbert vaginal speculum, metal, French, early 19th century
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Gilbert vaginal speculum, metal, French, early 19th century
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Guilbert vaginal speculum, metal, French, 1801-1830.

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
Materials:
metal (unknown)
Measurements:
overall: 183 mm x 152 mm x 165 mm, 0.3kg
type:
vaginal speculum
credit:
Wellcome Trust (Purchased from Stevens)