or most women, a visit to the gynecologist is like the most nightmarish visit to the dentist you've ever had - only two thousand times worse. There's the part where you take off all your clothes and put on that paper excuse for a gown, and then there's the true horror, which starts when the doctor walks in with that "let's get this over with" forced smile and asks you to scoot down.
Then he takes out the speculum.
For those of you who don't know, the speculum literally was not created with a woman's comfort in mind. It's cold, makes horrible clicking sounds and feels like somebody shoved a fist up your body. Turns out, there's a great reason for this.
As Wired explains, the speculum was created by American physician James Marion Sims, who is known as the “father of modern gynecology” for discovering the treatment for vaginal fistulas, among other conditions.
He is also known for a more sinister reason. He made most of his breakthroughs by operating on enslaved women... without anesthesia.
Sims would perfect his operations on enslaved and indigent women before using the results to treat wealthy white women in a more humane manner. But even with them, Sim’s bedside courtesy didn’t extend far. He would perform forced cliterodectomies, or clitoris removals, on women if their fathers or husbands requested it.
Basically, Sims wasn't the greatest guy, and the speculum is a reflection of his indifferent attitude towards women.
Arielle Pardes of Wired puts it best, “To say that the speculum was not designed with patient comfort in mind would be an egregious understatement.”
Enter: Frog, the design company responsible for many of technology's sleekest modern designs. Yes, that even includes your Apple products.
Frog designers Hailey Stewart and Sahana Kumar wanted to create a speculum that would actually be a pleasant experience for women, so they came up with the Yoni. If that word sounds familiar, it’s because “yoni” is the Sanskrit word for vagina. It’s also the annoying word all your vegan-yoga buddies are saying when they talk about their “tantric” exercises.
Yoni has a revolutionary design... which is still in process.
Stewart and Kumar have been refining the newest approach to the speculum, and thus far, they’ve narrowed it down to a few contenders. The newest speculum opens three ways instead of two and has a longer handle, so you don’t have to scoot down anymore. Also, it’s made of easily sterilized silicone, which means it’s not cold or sharp.
There’s even an app that goes with it, which has a questionnaire to make the user experience more comfortable. A newer design also includes stress-ball socks you can insert your feet into to for comfort. You can take a look at the process here.