The root word [-gyne-] is Greek, from [gynaik] meaning "woman" or "female". The suffix [-ology] is also Greek, derived from [logos] meaning "study of". [Gynecology] is then "study of a woman or a female". The term refers to the medical specialty that studies and treats the female reproductive system. A separate specialty, obstetrics, deals with the care of the pregnant patient and delivery of the fetus.
Originally, both specialties were the domain of midwives. It was not until the 1600's that male physicians were allowed to treat gynecological problems and attend births. As the image shows, man-widwifes in Europe were allowed access to the patient only with the use of a "modesty blanket". This is plate XV from the 1681 book "Korte en Bondige Van Der Voortteeling en Kinderbaren" by Samuel Janson.
|As an interesting side note in history, the first male physician to work as a man-midwife was Dr. Wertt from Hamburg. Dr Wertt decided to disguise himself as a woman to attend patients. When he was discovered, the punishment was "swift and salutary": He was burned at the stake. Source:
"The Story of Surgery" by H. Graham, 1939Word suggested and edited by: Dr. Sanford S. Osher , MTD Contributor