Intended for healthcare professionals


John Studd: a towering figure in gynaecology

BMJ 2021; 375 doi: (Published 13 October 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;375:n2499
  1. John Illman
  1. London, UK
  1. john{at}
Photo credit: Mark Large/Daily Mail/Shutterstock

One of the most forthright doctors of his age, John Studd fired controversy in both the medical and the political arenas. Few other doctors have been driven to the same degree by the uncompromising belief that they were right.

Among the last of the old style, paternalistic consultants, he made enemies for his Thatcherite support of private healthcare, but he stands out as one of the towering figures in women’s medicine. The “Studd curve” features on every woman’s partogram and is one of the foundations of modern labour management. Studd also had a pioneering role in developing hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and launched the in vitro fertilisation unit at London’s Lister Hospital.


Studd may have been at his most outspoken in his contention that once child bearing was complete, the female reproductive organs were redundant. The risk of cancer, he argued, outweighed the benefits of natural but inconsistent oestrogen over HRT. He was found guilty of serious professional misconduct by the General Medical Council in 1997 for removing a woman’s ovaries without her consent.

But he was highly critical of the medical establishment. He is reported …

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