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    The Forgotten Heroines – Women Who Have Contributed to Modern Gynecology

    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | February 28th, 2016

    The Forgotten Heroines – Women Who Have Contributed to Modern Gynecology

    Last week, my husband sent me a link to a National Public Radio (NPR) segment.  I was getting ready to go into the grocery store quickly, however decided to click on the link. I could not get out of the car. I was mesmerized. The story was about Anarcha, Lucy and Betsey. I had never heard about them in my schooling from elementary to medical school. I am a gynecologist, I should have known about them, however my textbooks only talked about Dr. J. Marion Sims.

    Anarcha, Lucy, and Betsey were slaves. There were many more like them, however they were the ones whose names appeared in Dr. Sim’s. writings. Dr.  Sims who is credited for developing the speculum and developing surgical techniques to improve women’s health would not have reached such prominence without the help of Anarcha, Lucy, and Betsey. From 1845 to 1849, Dr. Sims performed several surgeries on these women until he got it right. The surgeries were performed in his makeshift hospital in his backyard. There are accounts that he performed up to 17 surgeries on Anarcha without anesthesia. Most of the procedures that he developed are still use today in gynecology.  For more information, please listen to the NPR segment of these wonderful women. I promise you it is worth the 30 minutes.

    I honor these women and many like them that have contributed to modern gynecology. They are our forgotten heroines.

    7 Responses to “The Forgotten Heroines – Women Who Have Contributed to Modern Gynecology”

    1. Kathryn says:

      Thank you for bringing to light the honor they deserve. My life wouldn’t be the same without their contributions, I’m sure.

    2. Kay Ragland says:

      It’s horrifying to think he performed over 17 surgeries on Anarcha without anesthesia, but without her unconcenting sacrifice gynecology wouldn’t be what it is today’s! Great little known black history lesson! Thanks

      • Ngozi Osuagwu, MD says:

        Thanks for your comments. How I wish we could hear her words. Unfortunately at that time it was a crime for slaves to be taught how to read or write.

    3. Gwendolyn Davis says:

      Thank you for this piece of Black History. (Ourstory)

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    Secure Your Copy of Letters to My Sisters by Dr. Ngozi Osuagwu.
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    The book discusses common gynecological and women’s health issues in a series of witty and entertaining letters. These letters, all educational, offer suggestions on what approaches to take in tackling the medical problems that typically bring women to an ob/gynecologist. The letters are spiced with art, a poem and quotes. Although its emphasis is on gynecology and women’s health, it touches on some other medical issues that make women visit their doctors.

    The second half of the book briefly discusses the most common gynecological conditions and also provides an overview of sexually transmitted infections. A list of annotated websites dealing with the different topics in the book is provided for the reader who wants to pursue each subject in depth.




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