It has been 150 years since the speculum was first designed. The speculum, that archaic metal tool that half of the population becomes intimately acquainted with at least once a year has not been changed in 150 YEARS. A lot of progress has happened since then, like you know, space travel and the internet and vehicles not being pulled by oxen.
Yet this ice cold, metal, uncomfortable tool that is used on everyone with a vagina has remained stubbornly unchanged.
I can’t help but think that if dudes had vaginas, gynecology appointments could be done via telepathic thinking by now, or even remotely while they chugged an IPA with their buddies at the bar.
But no, dudes don’t have vaginas. That is why it has taken 150 years (at 164,000 pelvic exams per day in U.S., that’s approximately 8.9 billion exams) for someone to notice that maybe a 150-year-old speculum design could be improved upon.
One medical literature review found that many women will even avoid going to the gynecologist because they hate the speculum so much. This shit obviously needs to be changed.
The Sims speculum, which is the one gynecologists use today, was invented by a man who wanted to be able to fix vaginal fistulas and was inspired by a gravy spoon. Yes, a gravy spoon. Marion Sims, the doctor who had this flash of inspiration, also enslaved African-American women to use for his experiments without anesthesia and has been called the father of gynecology.
I call him a piece-of-shit, but I digress.
I’m going to have an aneurysm researching speculums.
Frog Design, a company lead and run by women (hell yeah!) has created a new, breakthrough design on the speculum — called the Yona — proving that women can also name things much better than men. Glory, hallelujah. And it’s about damn time.
In order to come up with the very best design, they did something that seems simple, but doesn’t happen often enough; they talked to women. WHAT?! You know, those people who actually have the damn things inserted into them. They researched what would make those pesky, but much-needed pelvic exams better. More comfortable. Less stressful. More modern, human health care. Less torture chamber from the 1800s.
And most importantly, more likely to get women to actually show up for their appointments.
“We recognized the need for a humanized pelvic exam experience that empowers patients,” said Hailey Stewart, industrial designer at Frog.
Read through this list of things and imagine how the men in your life would handle “the last scootch,” and the “ratcheting and clicking.” My husband, the wonderful man that he is, would forgo his future health to never, ever have something inserted inside of him that might include screws or pinching on delicate body parts. Yet all of the women I know have willingly done this over and over again.
Open wide, right? I do yoga, so this should be easy.
Sure, doc, that metal device looks like something out of my nightmares, but go right ahead and put ‘er up in there.
You need me to scootch down closer to that wanky-looking impalement device? No problem-o.
Watch this to see Yona’s radical empathy experiment — men reacting to seeing a modern-day speculum and reading about womens’ experiences in the gynecologist’s office. The nakedness and stress, having your legs spread wide open, the sounds and the feeling of the cold, metal speculum. The men are blown away. And probably thanking a higher power that they have penises.
The development of the Yona has morphed into an entire discussion about women’s health care and the importance of making our yearly exams more comfortable. Hopefully, this communication and the development of the newly designed speculum will get women in to see their doctors without all of the anxiety that goes along with that.
Our vaginas thank you, Frog Design.