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Say What? Scientists to Create a Robotic Vagina for Gynecological Exams

Sep 12, 2016 04:10 AM EDT

A group of researchers from the Imperial College London is planning to build a robotic vagina to help doctors-in-training to master the ins and outs of the woman's reproductive organ during a gynecological exam.

The researchers' vaginal model aims to educate medical students about the female body by touch, preparing them for real-life analysis with patients. The model will be made of silicone and equipped with 3D imaging and haptic technology so that it can have the sense of touch, just like the real thing, as well as a visual images of the vagina's interiors, Smithsonian reports.

Fernando Bello, a professor of surgical computing and simulation science and ths study's author, said that creating a robotic vagina is actually a hard feat to accomplish. He says that even though they have been working on the model for five years now, they are still discovering more things inside the female reproductive organ.

"It’s fascinating, really. We’ve been working on this for a number of years now, and in many ways, we feel as if we’re kind of just beginning," Bello told the Smithsonian.

However, do women really need to undergo an annual pelvic exam? An article from Slate says that doctors have found "insufficient amount of evidence" that healthy women should have pelvic exams every year, except during pregnancy,

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force notes that early detection of diseases such as ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, genital herpes, etc., through pelvic exams do not usually benefit the patients. But pelvic exams are important too. Smithsonian notes that doctors use annual pelvic exams to look for cancers, cysts and fibroids.

Currently, medical students practice pelvic exams using plastic simulators and live models, but through the creation of Bello's robotic vagina, these students would perform a more thorough exam because apart from feeling, they would get to see images inside the patient's reproductive organ.

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