From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Gynaecology or gynecology, from the Greek, gynaika (γυναίκα) meaning woman, is the medical practice dealing with the health of the female reproductive system (uterus, vagina, and ovaries). Literally, outside medicine, it means "the science of women". It is the counterpart to andrology, which deals with medical issues specific to the male reproductive system.
Almost all modern gynaecologists are also obstetricians (see obstetrics and gynaecology). In many areas, the specialties of gynaecology and obstetrics overlap. Gynaecology has been considered to end at 28 weeks gestation, but practically there is no clear cut-off. Since 1st October 1992, this cut-off may be considered to occur at 24 weeks gestation in the United States, since the law and definition of abortion changed to bring it closer to the gestation at which a foetus becomes viable.
The Kahun Gynaecological Papyrus is the oldest known medical text of any kind. Dated to about 1800 B.C., it deals with women's complaints—gynaecological diseases, fertility, pregnancy, contraception, etc. The text is divided into thirty-four sections, each section dealing with a specific problem and containing diagnosis and treatment, no prognosis is suggested. Treatments are non surgical, comprising applying medicines to the affected body part or swallowing them. The womb is at times seen as the source of complaints manifesting themselves in other body parts.
According to the Suda, the ancient Greek physician Soranus of Ephesus practised in Alexandria and subsequently Rome. He was the chief representative of the school of physicians known as the "Methodists". His treatise Gynaikeia is extant (together with a 6th-century Latin paraphrase by Muscio, a physician of the same school).
In the United States, J. Marion Sims is considered the father of American gynaecology.