mother of gynaecology

31 Oct, 2022

Mother of Gynaecology


Lynching remains one of the most troubling and least understood outrages in American history. According to the accounts in history, lynching has been defined as the torturing of black women who are mutilated, burned, shot, dragged, raped, and accused of an alleged crime by a white mob. They were deprived of their life, either in secret or in the open, without equal protection of the law. Going beyond the definition, some of these women were also subject to extreme torture for medical and surgical techniques. Further, they were also exposed to brutal experimental gynaecological surgery without an anesthetic.

“It’s not a pretty subject… people don’t want to discuss this.”

– Heldi Downes

Montogomery was evidence of the conditions of 3 enslaved women Anarcha, Betsy, and Lucy by Dr James Marion Sims – ‘Father of Modern Gynaecology.’ Back in the 1840’s, when Anarcha Westcott (who now is known as the mother of gynaecology) was a teenager and forcibly separated from her newborn baby. Strange as it may sound- all three women developed excruciating health conditions after childbearing that caused them to lose control of their bladders and bowels and they were kept separate from the other workers. This medical condition, known as the vesicovaginal fistula and rectovaginal fistula had no cure back then. The experiments of Dr. Sim’s on these enslaved women sparked a controversy among medical historians. He is known to have performed painful surgeries on women without consent, anesthesia, and pain relief.

Dr. Sims is accused of performing 30 experimental, non-consensual, and anesthesia-free operations on Anarcha. However, these procedures were a success and revolutionized gynaecological surgeries. This technique by Dr. Sims became the first-ever treatment for vesicovaginal fistulae.

anarcha betsy lucy




Whether Anarcha, Betsy and Lucy had a choice or not is a matter of deep discussion but they deserve to be remembered for their insignificant contribution.

What is Vesicovaginal fistula?

Vesicovaginal fistula - an abnormal opening between the bladder and the vagina that results in continuous and unremitting urinary incontinence. It is one of the most distressing complications of gynecologic and obstetric procedures. As per the studies conducted by NCBI, about 3 million women in poor countries have unrepaired Vesicovaginal fistula and often common with black women.

vesicovaginal fistula



Belly Pain


Weight Loss



What is Rectovaginal fistula?

Rectovaginal fistula- Abnormal epithelial-lined connections between the rectum and vagina. If the opening between the rectum and vagina is extensive it will allow both flatulence and faeces to escape through the vagina, leading to faecal incontinence. Studies reveal that about 1 lakh people worldwide develop vaginal fistulas every year.

Rectovaginal fistula


Abdominal Pain

Gas leaking out of Vagina

Smelly Vaginal Discharge


Urinary Tract Infections

Painful Intercourse

Vaginal Bleeding

Skin Irritation

Unexplained Weight Loss

Minute rectovaginal fistulas may heal on their own over time. However, the majority with rectovaginal fistulas need an operation to close the opening. Though, in rare cases, it opens again after treatment.

With complex treatment procedures, it is important for trained practitioners to minimize the complications in these surgeries. A diploma in Assisted Reproductive Technology covers the subject in detail and is the need of the hour to train experts in this field. Medline Academics also provides online fellowship courses in infertility which cover an in-depth portion of these lesser-known topics in reproductive medicine. Register for the next batch now and know more about Vesicovaginal and Rectovaginal fistula.

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