A male physician created the original design in the 1840s, and the device used in doctor's offices today really doesn't differ much from that first model. And, largely due to the discomfort associated with the instrument being inserted into your most sensitive area, one study found a large number of women skip pelvic exams altogether.
A handful of updated prototypes have been created in the past to no avail, but this one looks promising: According to Wired, the team at the San Francisco–based design firm Frog—led by industrial designer Hailey Stewart—is working on an alternative speculum that's fit for the 21st century.
The redesigned speculum doesn't make that awful gear-cranking sound when in use, and is made of autoclavable silicone so it isn't freezing cold.
The redesigned speculum—called Yona—doesn't make that awful gear-cranking sound when in use, is made of autoclavable silicone so it isn't freezing cold, and has a new triangular shape that makes the process much more comfortable. Frog is also focusing on the mental side of the annual visit by working on an app that would even feature guided meditation to calm users' nerves before their appointments.
While this all sounds pretty game-changing, there is one big obstacle in the way: getting Yona into offices. "You could create the most beautiful, most unique, most user-friendly device, but if a doctor doesn't want to learn how to use it, your patient's never going to see it," Stewart said.
Here's to hoping the current massive interest in women's health means good news for future of the speculum—because there's a lot of room for improvement.
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