FemSpec and Beyond

Our midwifery department arranged a special treat for us today: a demonstration of the brand new speculum that’s out on the market, FemSpec.

Looks pretty strange, doesn’t it? Has anyone ever used one of these things? Supposedly it works much better than a regular speculum because it doesn’t allow the vaginal walls to collapse inward and obstruct the view, it’s always warm, always sanitary, and a lot softer, more comfortable and less threatening-looking. It’s inserted like a tampon, and then inflated once it’s inside the vagina like a blood pressure cuff. Nifty, ultra-luxe, and definitely designed for private practices that can shell out for the more expensive, new product.

We all got samples, and I gave mine a whirl. My overall impression was that on your average nulliparous woman with an anteverted uterus, this probably works like a charm…but what about women with deeply posterior cervices and retroverted uteri? And the FemSpec is opaque, so how are you supposed to get a good look at the vaginal walls, while you’re in there? The sales rep insisted that “the doctor” will have no problem visualizing the vaginal walls during removal of the FemSpec, but I’m not quite convinced. She also assured us that the extra lever that comes with every FemSpec means that “the physician” will have no problem visualizing those posterior, hard-to-reach cervices. She kept using the pronoun “he” as well.

I’m sure on some level she must have realized that she was talking to a room full of midwives and future midwives, but maybe she was nervous, and unable to deviate from her script, and it just didn’t quite click in her brain. Maybe she had no idea that saying doctor all the time might not fly so well in a room full of midwives who do paps just as often as docs. Maybe she’s just a new, young saleswoman who hasn’t yet learned that you court whatever audience you’re giving your pitch to. In any case, it kind of rubbed me the wrong way.

I’m still hardly competant at using the conventional speculum, let alone the new one. It will be really interesting to see if these actually start to infiltrate the market, and which clinics (if any) will begin to use them. As for me, I’m reserving judgement until I have an opportunity to actually use one in a clinical setting, but a note to FemSpec: teach your sales reps that midwives and physician assistants and nurse-practitioners and sometimes even nurses ALL use speculums, not just doctors. A more all-inclusive sales pitch might actually improve your sales.

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