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What is self-managed gynecology? The Self-help movement

It was not until the last century that women were able to face a battle to reclaim control of their bodies, minds and lives from the grip of medical oppression. The world was changing, but women were still subject to centuries of myths created about the defects and inferiority of their biology.

The "self-help" movement was born in the United States in 1971 within the current of radical feminism and began in Spain five years later. It came about as a reaction to the experiences that many women had with gynecologists in the 1950s and 1960s. It was a response to the authority of doctors, the objectification of the female body in health care, and the increasing dehumanization in the field of medicine.

But how did this start? On April 7, 1971, thirty women met to discuss abortion, to try to get women to take control of their reproduction. What happened at that meeting was that Carol Downer, who had taken a speculum from an illegal abortion clinic, showed how to do a vaginal self-exam and shared the information with the group of women. A fact that was very revealing, they realized that with a speculum, a flashlight and a mirror they could perform a self-examination and see the state of their cervix. It was a tool to be able to control their reproduction at a time when they did not have enough information about abortion or fertility control.

Self-managed gynecology is a tool that promotes autonomy through knowledge of our own bodies, with the aim of making conscious and informed decisions about our health. It consists of recognizing the particular situation of each person and deciding on their reproductive and sexual health. Self-managed gynecology does not deny the knowledge created from medical science, but its purpose is that we regain power over our bodies and make conscious decisions about our well-being. This movement defends the intercommunication between health professionals and people who go to consultation, so that there is a shared experience from participation and knowledge.

In our system we have been given to understand that doctors have some kind of "divine" power that can perform miracles and that their duty is to keep us healthy. And this takes us away from our active role in our health. We only worry when we have a serious pathology and we leave the "miraculous" cure in the doctor's hands. When we are the ones who should be aware of the signals that our body sends us about its condition and not let all the responsibility fall on the medical system.

You already know that from The Blue Box we defend that the medicine of the future (and already of the present) will be preventive and participative. We want people, and especially women, to take control of their health and actively participate in their well-being.


Diedrich, Lisa (2013). "Que(e)rying the Clinic before AIDS: Practicing Self-Help and Transversality in the 1970s". Journal of Medical Humanities. 34 (2): 123–138.

Murphy, Michelle (2004). "Immodest Witnessing: The Epistemology of Vaginal Self-Examination in the US Feminist Self-Help Movement". Feminist Studies. 30 (1): 115–147.

Wikipedia. Carol Downer. Retrieved on December 21, 2021 from: