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Why is it important to know the history of how the medical profession suppressed the knowledge of female sexual anatomy in the 1900’s? [1] Why is it important to know that European females had more knowledge of how to control their fertility, and that knowledge was wiped out in four centuries of witch hunts [2]?

We think it is natural that females are shy about looking at own genitals and talking openly about our sexual and reproductive problems, and turn to doctors, instead of other women, to learn about them? In fact, females shared extensive information amongst themselves about how to prevent getting pregnant or terminating a pregnancy. Midwives, who presided over birth, were the repository of this common knowledge prior to the fourteenth century in Europe and until the coming of the European conquerors until much later.[3]

This knowledge of our history has not been taught in schools or universities. The rise of the women’s movement in the mid-twentieth century brought with it the realization that social upheavals that brought in the modern state improved living conditions, but also have devastating effects on the time-honored control of female health by the community of females. Modern institutions attacked and pried into “Women’s secrets”.   As ordinary males challenged the rule of the Kings and the Church and demanded many freedoms that we all cherish today, traditional female spheres were destroyed and we modern females are much the worse for it.[4]

Women’s Health in Women’s Hands is dedicated to recovering that knowledge for the modern female. We do this through meeting in groups, taking off our pants and inserting a speculum so that we, and the others in the group, can see our cervix, the entrance to the vagina.[5]

But, this deceptively simple act leads to far more than breaking the silence between females ( a monumental breakthrough in itself!). It exposes how deficient our health care system is, and raises many questions. The birth control pill is no more effective than several other safer barrier methods? You mean that spot on the crotch of my panty is probably a normal secretion, not a discharge? Females have prostate glands and ejaculate during orgasm? The clitoris is more than that pea-sized knob that sits on top of my vulva?[6]

The reception to group vaginal self-exam has always been overwhelmingly positive for the females that have participated; many swear “it changed my life!” Since the feminist health movement’s subsidence after the Roe v. Wade decision, most females are unaware of its existence and a typical response from these females is, “Why would anyone want to do that?” Some few even say “Ewww!”

Some findings of self-help have enabled self-helpers to accomplish great things that have lasted, like setting up women-controlled clinics and spread advance early abortion technology,[7] re-defining the clitoris, prompting female anatomists to do research.[8] Other findings have been either ignored or even by-passed.

Today, females have become aware that we can predict our fertility through learning about our menstrual cycles. Originally the Catholic Church’s answer to criticisms of the Rhythm method, a fertility detection method that relied on rubbing the cervical secretions between the fingers was provided to Catholic females.   The feminist health movement raised females’ understanding of the role of fertile mucus. A female can see copious amounts of this clear mucus streaming out of her cervix around the time of ovulation. This finding has been by-passed by the development of smart phone applications that predict fertility through automatically measuring a female’s temperature. This method, perhaps coincidentally, doesn’t require a female to touch herself at all.[9]

The medical profession ignores the studies that show that the cervical cap or diaphragm, when compared to the birth control pill under the same conditions, is equally effective. Today, it is difficult to find a clinic that stocks the diaphragm.[10]

As self-help clinics occurred throughout the country in the early 70’s, women in Santa Cruz, California used its group method to teach themselves to be midwives. They were later arrested and convicted of practicing medicine without a license. Midwives throughout the country have continued to struggle to become independent practitioners and most incorporate many of the principles of self-help (bodily autonomy, non-drug approaches), but fighting and obeying the licensing laws have absorbed most of their political energy and home birth remains under constant attack.[11]

It is the goal of this website to inspire a female to find out for herself how accessible her cervix is. We want to provide the viewer with tips on how to gather other females together, and we will happily connect up self-helpers with other self-help groups. We know from experience that good things happen when females share this experience together. We provide some of the knowledge that self-helpers have gained and the changes they’ve made in their own and others’ lives. We also want to feature what self-helpers are doing around the world and incorporate their accomplishment on the website.[12]


  1. The history of how the medical profession suppressed the knowledge of female sexual anatomy in the 1900’s
  2. Ancient History of Contraception and Abortion by John Riddle, Ann Koblitz, The Woman that Glows in the Dark
  3. The Witch Hunts, Witches, Midwives and Nurses
  4. Silvia Federici, “Caliban and the Witch”
  5. See Self-Help
  6. See Self-Help
  7. See Abortion
  8. See Anatomy
  9. See Birth Control
  10. Old Doctors’ Tales (we'll add these on our site soon)
  11. See Birthing Our Babies
  12. A Revival of women’s knowledge and self-care (we'll add this on our site soon)

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