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date: 29 September 2023



  • Helen King


Gynaecology existed in the ancient world as a medical specialism, but its separate identity was not always permitted by wider medical theories. The significant question was this: do women have diseases peculiar to their sex, or are they subject to the same conditions as men, only requiring a separate branch of medicine to the extent that they have different organs to be affected? In other words, is gynaecology necessary?The majority of the surviving gynaecological treatises come from the Hippocratic corpus (see hippocrates (2)) and probably date to the late 5th and early 4th cents. bce. These treatises include three volumes of Gynaecia (Mul.), usually translated as ‘Diseases of Women’, but which can also mean women's sexual organs, *menstruation, or therapies for women's diseases. In contrast to the rest of the Hippocratic corpus, these texts include long lists of remedies using plant and animal ingredients. The third volume concerns the treatment of barren women. A separate short treatise discusses the medical problems of unmarried girls at puberty (Virg.


  • Gender Studies
  • Science, Technology, and Medicine

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