Vaginal speculum

1801-1850 in France

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Vaginal speculum, bath, boxwood and ebony, possibly French, first half 19th century

Made of boxwood and ebony, this vaginal speculum uses a syringe mechanism to introduce ointments into the uterine cavity. A British pamphlet of 1857 advised husbands that examination with a vaginal speculum ‘plunges its wretched victim…down into the lowest deep infamy and degradation’. Specula examinations caused controversy over male doctors performing such an intimate examination on women. However, the speculum was routine in gynaecological examination by the end of the 1800s.

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Science Museum: Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries

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Clinical Diagnosis
Object Number:
boxwood and ebony
vaginal speculum
  • furnishing and equipment
  • tools & equipment
  • medical instrument
  • speculum
Loan, Wellcome Trust

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