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Exhibition explores the development of women’s healthcare

RCN’s The Wandering Womb exhibition shows how gynaecology and sexual health have evolved

RCN’s The Wandering Womb exhibition shows how gynaecology and sexual health have evolved


Manuals present and past, including the Victorian Aristole's Works.

A nursing history exhibition traces changes in women's healthcare from Victorian times to the present day.

RCN Scotland's The Wandering Womb exhibition explores issues including menstruation, menopause, miscarriage and gynaecological cancer.

Exhibits include:

  • The 1855 Aristotle's Works manual, which deals with uterine dropsy, labour and ‘testicles in women’ alongside a present-day pocket guide for nurses on gynaecology, sexual and reproductive health.  
  • An early intrauterine device designed by 20th century Ernst Gräfenberg, after whom the G-spot is named.
  • Examples of speculas from the nineteenth century to the present day.

One woman's legal battle 


The speculum, in various incarnations. 

The exhibition highlights the case of Alice Beatty, who in 1890 was treated for 'ovarian disease'. Her surgeon removed both her ovaries, despite agreeing with the patient only to remove one. She took the case to court and lost. 

    RCN knowledge and research manager Siân Kiely, said: ‘This is an inspiring exhibition exploring key areas of women’s health, including how nursing has challenged myths and misconceptions.

    'It brings this important nursing history to life and shows its significance to today’s health services and highlights why we need to speak more openly about intimate health issues.’

    The exhibition run at RCN Scotland in Edinburgh until 31 October.  


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    Further reading

    The Wandering Womb: women's health nursing past and present

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