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Instruments for Women
Other than in the case of a cesarean section or a mastectomy, there was little invasive surgery available to women prior to the discovery of anesthesia in the mid nineteenth century, though a number of instruments were designed for women prior to that.
Roman trivalve vaginal speculum with replica screw (ca. 99 B.C.–A.D. 400) found in Lebanon
Pompeii vaginal speculum
This is a nineteenth century reproduction of the vaginal speculum found in first century Pompeii.
(left) Paré trivalve vaginal speculum (ca. 1580), (top) cased Furgeson's speculum, (below) trivalve ivory speculum Weiss, (upper right) bivalve presentation ivory and gold-plate speculum by Charriere, (lower right) bivalve speculum by Tiemann
The surgery, surgical pathology, and surgical anatomy of the female pelvis organs, 5th ed. (1882) by Henry Savage
This is a lithographic representation of the repair of a vesicovaginal fistula in Sim's position. This condition was first successfully treated by Dr. James Sims in the nineteenth century, but women around the world still suffer from this tragic complication of giving birth.
Sims vaginal speculum by Tiemann
Tire-Lait box for a breast pump
breast pumps and nipple shields
(Top) cased breast pumps by Elam, and Maw, Son, and Thompson; (bottom) Wansbrough’s metallic nipple shields, and glass nipple shields, nipple shell (all mid nineteenth century)
nipple shields of sterling silver and ivory
instruments designed for female hygiene (ca. 1900)
(left) Hygienophile by G. Huclin and Co.; (top right) Lawson’s vaginal washer; (bottom) Vagex by American Vagex Corp.
Leonard's uterine douche, nineteenth century
another instrument designed for feminine hygiene
Dr. Molesworth's Uterine Dilator and Syringe
An unusual instrument used for the treatment of various uterine conditions.
Leonard's uterine irrigator, nineteenth century
Repositor by Sharp and Smith, Nineteenth Century
Male physicians often attributed various women’s disorders such as pain, dysmenorrhea, and mood swings (called "hysteria) to an abnormally placed, or “dropped” uterus, and the obvious therapy was to reposition this organ with an instrument called a repositor.
Repositor by Tiemann, Nineteenth Century
another similar device
Early 20th Century Vibrator by White Cross
In the early twentieth century, vaginal stimulation with vibratory devices for the treatment of female hysteria was a common and lucrative part of many physicians’ office practices, and small electric vibrators were frequently found in homes throughout America for personal use.
Manual repositioning was the office treatment for a retroverted uterus (and "hysteria'), from A Practical Manual of Gynecology, 1891