A History of The Uterus

A History of The Uterus

I know what you were thinking this morning. 

You were thinking: “With all the recent talk about Women’s History Month, I wonder when someone is going to talk about the History of the Uterus?”

Well, I’m glad you asked. Today is your lucky day. The fascinating History of the Uterus is exactly what I was wanting to talk about. Here goes. [see footnote 1]

Monday morning, 210 million years ago: The first morganucodontid [2] (her name was Morganucodontida) looks down, sees blood dripping from . . . down there,[3] and says, “Of course.[4] It’s Monday. What else do you expect.”

Fast Forward to Monday morning, 7 million years ago: The remarkably hairy human/ape woman looks down, sees blood,[5] and says, “Of course. It’s Monday. Have they invented chocolate yet? No? I’m going to the hot springs. I’ll be back in a week.” She exits, stage right. 

Her remarkably hairy human/ape man watches her stalk away, and mutters, “Cra-Cra! Must be her uterus.”

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Aaannnndddd, we’re off!

Another few million years and we get to the ancient Egyptians, whose Medical Advances included a cutting-edge, medical theory: The Floating Uterus! 

Yes, that’s right, ladies and gentlemen! The Floating Uterus! Step right up and see it today! Never in the same place twice! Here today! There tomorrow! Sure to cause all sorts of Fun Maladies! 

We actually have fragments of a gynecological/obstetrical papyrus from several thousand years ago, and here is what it has to say (in English, of course, since the ancient Egyptians invented English as well as the Wandering Womb): 

Examination of a woman who is ill from her womb wandering

You should say of it 'what do you smell?'

If she tells you 'I smell roasting'

You should say of it 'it is wrappings (?) of the womb

You should treat it by fumigating her with whatever she smells as roast'[6]

Luckily, the Egyptians listed lots of other symptoms caused by the Wandering Womb including aches in a woman’s back end, front end, calves, limbs, urine, teeth, ears, and eye sockets. Also, they note that clenching of the womb would cause her to stay in bed.  

The Greeks, inspired by such remarkable Medical Knowledge, learned all they could and elaborated on the fantasy so much that the Wandering Womb donned a shepherd’s dress and  little red hood and sporadically screamed like a banshee.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The important point for us to learn today is that the earliest extant medical writings concerning the uterus note that it: 

  1. Wanders 
  2. Causes lots of aches 
  3. Can be treated with fumigation. 

I personally think one of the major losses of Modern Medicine is not using fumigation as a cure for Uterine Issues. 

However, I must cut this short. It’s a Sunday parading as a Monday, and my limbs and eye sockets are aching and it’s time for a hot bath in a room filled with smoke from burning crocodile dung lavender-scented candles. . . 


[1] Warning: For those who are faint of heart, this article will NOT mention Periods, Birth Stories, and Breastfeeding. 

[2] Morganucodontid: an early version of a shrew. Tiny and shrew-ish. But very thin. She weighed in at not more than three ounces, even during the holidays. This is because her primary food was insects, undoubtedly because chocolate hadn’t yet been invented. 

[3] Didn’t I just tell you that this article was NOT going to mention Periods? Oops! 

[4] “Course: as in monthly courses. An old-timey word for Periods. And there we go again, mentioning Periods. Oops!

[5] Again. I know. Oops?

[6] Thanks to Stephen Quirke of the University College London for the translation from the Kahun Medical Papyrus:

Stephanie can be reached at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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