Ancient Anatomies

  • Camille Nurka


This chapter explores ancient scientific approaches to the female sexual body from Hippocrates to Galen. It examines understandings of vulval disease and health to establish that nowhere in the Greek medical corpus do we find any concept of labial hypertrophy. Hence, it was not yet recognised as a clinical problem. I argue that such a diagnosis could only be arrived at when the appearance of genital sex came to be considered as important in defining female health and disease. ‘Sex’ in the ancient Greek world was not defined by genitality, so the types of disorder to befall women were located in the womb and menstrual blood, first and foremost. The second reason for the absence of the concept of genital hypertrophy as a physical disorder is that the anatomical nomenclature had not yet been developed to describe it. It would only come about with increased precision in anatomical naming.


Menstrual Blood Labial Hypertrophy Ancient Greek Medicine Soranus External Genitals 
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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Camille Nurka
    • 1
  1. 1.Mount WaverleyAustralia

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