Trotula di Ruggerio lived sometime during the 11th century in Salerno, Italy. At that time, Salerno was one of the world's greatest centers for learning
and medical advancement. The medical school at Salerno was the first non-religious university. Both men and women studied Greek
, and Hebrew
texts there. Trotula occupied a chair of medicine
at this school and led a group of female doctors called the Ladies of Salerno.
Her main interest was female health, and she was intent on educating ignorant male medics about female anatomy. She wrote many books, the most notable being Passionibus Mulierum Curandorum (The Diseases of Women), also known as Trotula Major. Its information includes gynecology, obstetrics, and other general medicine.
Trotula was concerned with the radical idea of cleanliness to prevent the spread of disease. Until the twentieth century, poor hygiene was the leading cause of death for mothers and infants. In an age when prayer was as good a cure as any, Trotula prescribed a healthy diet, exercise, herbs, scented oils rubbed into the skin, warm baths, and bedrest. She also created a surgical technique to repair a torn perineum after childbirth.
Many of Trotula's ideas were deemed shocking in her time. Her suggestion that infertility could be the result of male physiological problems was very controversial. She pioneered the use of hormonal treatments (derived from animal testicles) to cure infertility and to regulate menstruation. She also recommended the use of opiates to relieve pain during childbirth. The Catholic Church strongly opposed this, saying that women should suffer while giving birth. Trotula is perhaps most famous for finding several methods to simulate the loss of the hymen on the wedding night. One method was to apply a leech the day before the wedding and to remove it shortly before consummation.
Trotula was married to a doctor named John Platearius. They had two sons, Matteo and John, who also became doctors. During her life, Trotula was referred to as Magistra Mulier Sapiens - "The wise woman teacher."
This chick was so hip that some scholars deny that Trotula really existed.