For many of us, it can take a lot of effort and courage to make a doctors' appointment — especially if that doctor happens to be a gynecologist. Part of that mental hurdle involves knowing that at some point during the visit, you're likely going to encounter the speculum, which is one of the most unpleasant tools devised by modern medicine. However, some doctors are working to improve the speculum (and our collective experience at the OBGYN) and take away all our excuses for putting off the appointments we need to make.

It turns out, the tool is not quite so modern after all, and was developed back in the 1840s by Dr. James Marion Sims. According to Wired, though Sims is regarded as the "father of modern gynecology," developed the speculum by conducting experiments on slaves without anesthesia. Wired writes, "To say that the speculum was not designed with patient comfort in mind would be an egregious understatement." Since then, the tool has pretty much kept the exact same duck-bill shape and function. The only difference is that it's now made of stainless steel rather than pewter, as the original model made by Sims.

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Given that the uncomfortable nature of gynecological exams makes so many folks avoid them, an improvement on the 150-year-old tool seems like it's been a long time coming. And that's exactly what the folks over at Frog are doing, headed up by Hayley Stewart and Sahana Kumar. Namely, they want to fix a few particular features about the speculum in particular: the jarring cranking sound it makes, the look, the cold feel of the metal, and the particular stretching feeling it gives once it's inside you.

They came up with multiple prototypes and options, spoke with gynecologists about what would make a new device succeed, and now, about six months after they started their process, they have created something that seems promising. It's called Yona. According to the website, the new design provides improved field of view, relaxed handle angle, single-handed operation, concealed locking, material consideration, and light implementation.

They're not naive about it, though. They've also created a guidebook for physicians about how to use it, including tips on how to make patients feel comfortable — the biggest part of the process is not necessarily in the creation, but in getting it to be adopted by actual physicians. However, the website is pretty comprehensive (and not bad to look at), which will be a huge help — check it out for more information.

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