Virgin speculum cancer kit renamed following campaign backed by TV presenter Davina McCall to stamp out ‘archaic’ term
- Medical instrument commonly known as a virgin speculum has been renamed
- TV presenter Davina McCall was among campaigners calling for the end of the ‘archaic’ term
A common piece of medical kit called a “virgin speculum” has been renamed following a campaign backed by TV presenter Davina McCall to stamp out the “archaic” term.
The name refers to the smallest version of an instrument used to look inside the vagina and cervix during cervical cancer screening.
The term dates back to the mid-1800s and was coined by speculum inventor James Marion Sims, who believed that a smaller instrument was suitable for unmarried women. He argued that a larger device could damage tissue at the opening of the vagina, which was erroneously believed to break the first time a woman has sex.
But campaigners have claimed the name infers that using the device is a sexual act.
Now, following a campaign by the Lady Garden Foundation, a women’s health charity, the NHS has simply rebranded it as an ‘extra small speculum’.
Television host Davina McCall supported the campaign to rename the virgin speculum
Following a campaign by the Lady Garden Foundation, a women’s health charity, the NHS simply rebranded the virgin speculum as ‘extra small speculum’.
The charity has seen documents from the NHS Supply Chain – the body that manages health products – directing suppliers to change the product’s name, which was celebrated by women’s health advocate McCall.
She says she is ‘overjoyed’ with the campaign’s success, adding: ‘I am constantly working to ensure that women can have confidence in gynecological treatment. A cervical examination should never be sexualised.’
Jenny Halpern Prince, of the Lady Garden Foundation, argues that clinicians using the term virgin speculum could deter women from attending the screenings.
She says it encourages “false narrative,” implying the tests are painful and sexual, putting up “potentially deadly barriers.”
Earlier this year, NHS figures revealed that the number of women missing cervical cancer screening tests is at its highest level in a decade. Cervical exams are offered to all women between the ages of 25 and 64, but fewer than seven in 10 of those who qualify have had the test by 2022.
Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers in women under 25, with around 3,000 diagnoses each year in the UK.
However, the number of cases has dropped significantly since 2008 thanks to the introduction of the HPV vaccine in teens.