What are the different speculum sizes?

A speculum.

No two women are the same and many women change shape over time. Recognizing this, the medical field has invented several different sizes and shapes of speculums to make gynecological exams as comfortable as possible for all patients. Pediatric speculum are the smallest, Pederson’s speculum are next in size, and Graves’ speculum have the largest speculum sizes. Pederson and Graves speculums also come in several different sizes. Nasal speculum, used to examine the sinuses, is the smallest variety of speculum.

Gynecologists use a speculum to examine the patient’s cervix.

Pediatric speculums are very rarely used in pediatric medicine. Instead, doctors use them for women who have never had sex or have biologically narrow vaginal canals. The arms of a pediatric speculum are usually less than 1 inch (about 2 cm) wide and rounded at the tip. Doctors often choose this speculum size for young women having their first pelvic exam.

Doctors use the speculum to gain greater access or to more easily observe the vagina, rectum, or other opening in the body.

Pederson’s speculum is the next size up from pediatric. The arms of a Pederson speculum narrow slightly towards the rounded tips. These speculums are often used for women with narrow vaginal canals, such as women over middle age or fully mature women who have never had sex. Speculum sizes in the Pederson class include small, medium, and large. The smallest size is only about 1 inch (about 2 cm) wide and the other two sizes are less than 0.5 inch (about 1 cm) wider than the smallest.

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An ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist may use a nasal speculum to diagnose a patient suffering from chronic sinusitis.

Graves’ speculum have the largest speculum sizes. They feature arms that are flatter and wider than the pediatric and Pederson varieties. The tips of the arms are still rounded, but the edges of the arms flare out slightly, creating a subtle oval shape. Doctors often reserve these speculums for women who have had sex or have given birth.

There are different sizes of speculum for women, depending on whether or not they have had sex and how often.

Like the Pederson variety, Graves’ specula also feature three speculum sizes. The smaller one is used for women who have had sex, but not often. The second is for women who have regular sex. The third size is usually used for women who have given birth vaginally at least once.

While keeping these guidelines in mind, clinicians often examine each patient before choosing from the available speculum sizes. A woman who has given birth may have a narrow vaginal canal and require a smaller size than normal. On the other hand, a woman who has never had sex can accept a slightly larger speculum.

A nasal speculum is often used to check for the cause of severe pain and pressure in the sinuses.

Nasal speculums, as the name implies, are used to gently open the nasal passages for a thorough examination. Patients with severe allergies, sinus obstructions, or infections may be familiar with nasal specula. The arms of these tools are less than 0.25 inch (about 0.5 cm) wide, including the slightly flared tips. Doctors usually only require a standard size nasal speculum.

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