Disposable vaginal speculum
Speculum is a medical instrument or medical tool (diagnostic tool) that is used for visualizing body cavities (such as oral cavity, nasal orifices, ear orifices, vagina, anus etc.). Speculums or specula (plural of speculum) are meat to visualize and investigate body cavities directly, unlike endoscopes, which usually have optics and provide indirect visualization of deeper body cavities such as intestine, colon; lungs etc. and allow photographing of inner body cavities and inner organs.
For visualizing different body cavities directly, the speculums used are differently designed for that purpose, for example vaginal speculum, rectal speculum, nasal speculum etc.
Vaginal speculums are designed to open/dilate vagina by gynecologists, to visualize vagina and cervix for diagnostic purpose as well as for collecting samples from cervix for Pap smear examination. Pap smear is done for diagnosing cervical cancer. Vaginal speculums can also be used by women for self vaginal examination, which can be purchased from medical supply stores or from various women health centers. Vaginal speculum can also be used for examination of anus and lower part of rectum, but special rectal/anal speculums are available for that purpose.
Vaginal speculums are usually made of metal, although plastic vaginal speculums are also available, which are usually disposable, one time use. These days one time disposable clear vaginal speculums are used more frequently. They must be discarded after single use. Metal vaginal speculums must be disinfected (usually by autoclaving) before use of second time. Vaginal speculums are available in various sizes to suit women with different vaginal sizes.
Method of use of vaginal speculum:
On a gynecological examination table, the patient is made to scoot down by a healthcare professional (a nurse or a female attendant). The doctor (usually a gynecologist) inserts a lubricated vaginal speculum of suitable size and gently opens the speculum and locks it for visualization of inside of vagina and cervix. After completion of examination, the doctor gently unlocks the speculum and withdraws it, without closing the speculum (closing the speculum before withdrawing may result in injury to delicate vaginal mucosa and cause harm and discomfort). The unlocked vaginal speculum is held open by hand pressure while withdrawing it.