For almost 200 years, people with vaginas have suffered through the cringe worthy process of pelvic exams. Now, thanks to an innovative team of women, the dreaded speculum could be a thing of the past!
We know that getting a pap-smear is better than getting cervical cancer, but does that mean we don’t deserve a little dignity in the process?
The current speculum design, was created by a male physician in the 1840s. It was also tested on slave women without any anesthesia. For someone who doesn’t have a vagina, this would sound almost barbaric.
For those of us who have had the displeasure of laying spread-eagle in the doctors office, stark naked, with your coochie inches away from your doctors face, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise.
A revamp is long over-due and is definitely being welcomed with open arms – and legs!
Meet the group of women redesigning the pelvic exam experience to be more user-friendly for everyone with vaginas, starting with the nearly 200-year-old speculum.
Posted by Freethink on Wednesday, October 9, 2019
Not only does the current speculum itself cause extreme discomfort, but the entire process of a pelvic exam is often violating. For some, it is even traumatic.
It comes as no surprise that a third of women skip getting their pap smears due to the level of fear, shame and pain that comes along with it.
James Marion Sims, who designed the speculum was even dubbed the “Father of Modern Gynecology” back in his day. It sounds like the title of a creepy medieval horror film, and that’s exactly what getting a pap smear can feel like.
Time For A Well Earned Upgrade
The women of YONA CARE are on a mission to make the pelvic exam a more pleasant experience for all people with vaginas. Originally, they had marketed their campaign for women, but soon realised their approach was off.
“The whole team was beating the drum of femininity, but that was not the right approach for an exam like this,” – Designer Haley Stewart of YONA CARE explained.
Once coming to this realisation, the team set their sights on reaching out to the LGBTQIA+ community, to hear from those who have been suffering in silence.
One person bravely came forward and admitted, “most trans guys are just not going to go, because its really difficult. And its dangerous; we can get cervical cancer, too.”
Many more people came forward with stories of being traumatised. One person explained they felt so violated during the process, that afterwards, they sat in their car crying for half an hour.
Unfortunately, there is an abundance of stories just like these ones. You will be hard pressed to find a person who has felt entirely comfortable through the process of a pelvic exam.
For people taking testosterone, the pain and discomfort is exaggerated even further. Thankfully, the designers and engineers at YONA CARE are tackling this issue from all angles.
It all starts with a conversation
Their movement to change the entire process of pelvic exams, starts with having honest conversations about what happens in that exam room. For this reason, the women of YONA CARE began with a method called Radical Empathy.
“We experimented with a research method called radical empathy to help those who have not experienced the exam for themselves build understanding, awareness, and empathy.”
During this method, individuals (including males) were sat down, and made to read accounts of people who have had pelvic exams, explaining their discomfort in detail. They also inspected a speculum to gain a better understanding of exactly what the doctors have been sticking you-know-where.
It will be a while to go before the new and improved speculum design is brightening up the exam room of the doctors office. However, the women at YONA CARE say they are grateful to be impacting lives already, without even having it on the market.
I believe I can speak for all people with vaginas when I say this is a well overdue, and highly deserved upgrade. I for one, am looking forward to not having to dread that awkward interaction at the doctors anymore!