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principle in his indulgences—perhaps more certainly, from his very ignorance, and from his not taking those precautions and followirg those rules which a career of vice is apt to teach the sensualist. Many a man has, until his marriage, lived a most continent life; so has his wife. As soon
As soon as they are wedded, intercourse is indulged in night after night; neither party having any idea that these repeated sexual acts are excesses which the system of neither can bear, and which to the man, at least, is absolute ruin. The practice is continued till health is impaired, sometimes permanently; and when a patient is at last obliged to seek medical advice, he is thunderstruck at learning that his sufferings arise from excesses unwittingly committed. Married people often appear to think that connection may be repeated just as regularly and almost as often as their meals. Till they are told of the danger the idea never enters their heads that they have been guilty of great and almost criminal excess; nor is this to be wondered at, since the possibility of such a cause of disease is seldom hinted at by the medical man they consult.
Some years ago a young man called on me, complaining that he was unequal to sexual congress, and was suffering from spermatorrhoea, the result, he said, of self-abuse.
He was cauterized, and I lost sight of him until March, 1856, when he returned, complaining that he was scarcely able to move alone. His mind had become enfeebled, there was great pain in the back, and he wished me to repeat the operation.
On cross-examining the patient, I found that after the previous cauterization he had recovered his powers, and, having subsequently married, had been in the habit of indulging in connection (ever since I had seen him, two years previously) three times a week, without any idea that he was committing an excess, or that his present weakness could depend upon this cause. The above is far from being an isolated instance of men who, having been reduced by former excesses, still imagine themselves equal to any excitement, and when their powers are recruited, to any expenditure of vital force. Some go so far as to believe that indulgence may increase these powers, just as gymnastic exercises augment the force of the muscles. This is a popular error, and requires correction. Such patients should be told that the shock on the system, each time connection is indulged in, is very powerful, and that the expenditure of seminal fluid must be particularly injurious to organs previously debilitated. It is by this and similar excesses that premature old age and complaints of the generative organs are brought on.
A few months later I again saw this young man, and all his symptoms had improved under moderated indulgence, care, and tonics.
In 1856, a gentleman, twenty-three years of age, who had been married two years, came to me in great alarm, complaining that he was nervous, and unable to manage his affairs. There was pain in his back, the least exertion caused him to perspire, and he had a most careworn countenance. I may
further men tion that he had been highly scrofulous as a boy. I learnt that he had married a young wife, and fearing that he might be considered a Joseph, as he had never known woman beforehand (although he acknowledged to having been guilty of evil practices at school), he unconsciously fell into excess, and attempted connection nightly; latterly, erection had been deficient, emission was attended with difficulty, and he felt himself daily less able to discharge what he thought were his family duties. Having read my book, he came to me for relief, and was extremely surprised to find that I considered he had committed excesses, believing that after marriage frequent intercourse could not be so termed. This history was given with such a naif air, that I was obliged to yield implicit credence to it. I desired him to put a check on his sexual feelings, and as a remedial measure ordered him phosphorus.
In December, 1861, a stout, florid man, about forty-five years of age, was sent to me by a distinguished provincial practitioner, in consequence of his sexual powers failing him, and one of his testes being smaller than the other. On cross-examination I found that he had been married some years, and had a family. Connection had been indulged in very freely, when, about four years ago, a feeling of nervousness insensibly came over him,
and about the same time his sexual powers gradually became impaired. The real object, he avowed, which he had in coming to me was to obtain some stimulus to increase his sexual powers, rather than to gain relief for the nervousness and debility under which he was laboring. Indeed, at his request, the efforts of the country practitioner had been made in the former direction. Instead of giving remedies to excite, I told him that his convalescence must depend upon moderate indulgence, and allowing the system to rally, and treated him according.
The lengths to which some married people carry excesses is perfectly astonishing. I lately saw a married medical man who told me that for the last fourteen years, he believed, he had never allowed a night to pass without having had connection, and it was only lately, on reading my book, that he had attributed his present ailments to marital excesses. The contrast between such a case as this, where an individual for fourteen
has resisted this drain on the system, and that of a man who is, as many are, prostrated for twenty-four hours by one nocturnal emission, is most striking. This great disparity is further discussed at page 231. All experience, however, shows that, whatever may be the condition of the nervous system, as regards sexual indulgences, excesses sooner or later tell upon any frame, and can never be indulged in with impunity. I believe too frequent sexual relations to be much more common than is generally supposed, and that they are hardly yet sufficiently appreciated by the profession as very fruitful causes of ill health.
I will give one more instance. A medical man called on me, saying he found himself suffering from spermatorrhoea. There were general debility, inaptitude to work, and disinclination for sexual intercourse; in fact he thought he was losing his senses and the sight of one eye was affected. The only way in which he lost semen was, as he thought, by slight occasional oozing from the penis. I asked him at once if he had ever committed
As a boy, he acknowledged having abused himself, but he married seven years previously to his visit to me, being then a hearty, healthy man, and it was only lately that he had been complaining. In answer to my further inquiry, he stated that since his marriage he had had connection two or three times a week, and often more than once a night. This one fact, I was obliged to tell him, sufficiently accounted for all his troubles. The symptoms he complained of were similar to those we find in boys who abuse themselves. It is true that it
years to reduce some strong, healthy men, just as it may be a long time before some boys are prejudicially influenced, but the ill effects of excesses are sooner or later sure to follow.
Since my attention has been particulary called to this class of ailments, I feel confident that many of the forms of indigestion, general ill health, hypochondriasis, &c., so often met with in adults, depend upon sexual excesses.
upon sexual excesses. The directors of hydropathic establishments must probably hold some such opinions, or they would not have thought it expedient to separate married patients when they are undergoing the water treatment. That this cause of illness is not more widely acknowledged and acted on, arises from the natural delicacy which medical men must feel in putting such questions to their patients as are necessary to elicit the facts.
I have often been surprised at the immediate and manifest benefit produced in these cases by enjoining moderate indulgence or complete abstinence, together with the simple treatment hereafter detailed under the head of Spermatorrhea, when other remedies have entirely failed.
It may very naturally be asked what is meant by an excess in sexual indulgence. The simple reply is—the same as in any other indulgence. An excess is what injures health. I have at page 145 stated that, according to my experience, few hardworking intellectual married men should indulge in connection oftener than once in seven or perhaps ten days. This, however, is only a guide for strong, healthy men. Generally, I should say that an individual may consider he has committed an excess, when coitus is succeeded by languor, depression of spirits, and malaise. This is the safest definition ! Such results should not happen if the male is in good health and indulges his sexual desires moderately.
No invariable law can be laid down in a case where so much
must depend upon temperament, age, climate, and other circumstances, as well as the health and strength of both parties. I maintain that in highly civilized communities the continuance of a high degree of bodily and mental vigor is inconsistent with more than a very moderate indulgence in sexual intercourse. The still higher principle also holds good that man was not created only to indulge his sexual appetites, and that he should subordinate them to his other duties.
It is not the body alone which suffers from excesses committed in married life. Experience every day convinces me that much of the languor of mind, confusion of ideas, and inability to control the thoughts of which some married men complain, arises from this cause. These ill effects are noticed not unfrequently in patients who have married late in life, and still more often in persons who have married a second time after having been widowers for some years.
The ill effects of marital excesses are not confined to offending parties. No doubt can exist that many of the obscure cases of sickly children born of apparently healthy parents arise from this cause, and this is borne out by investigations amongst animals.
M. Goddard has related some interesting experiments made at the Haras of Poitou on the liquid ejaculated by stallions in their different jumps on the same day. He has established that the semen, which was tolerably thick and very opaline, of an amber colour in the first jump, became more and more clear, and less and less thick, so that after the fourth jump the liquid was absolutely like water, and scarcely contained any animalcules. It was thus easy by the eye alone to distinguish the semen ejaculated by the same animal at different times of the day. According to the same observer, the semen of the first jump of a morning would possess alone certain fecundating properties, and in a covering establishment it would be advantageous to allow the same animal only one jump a day, one jump every second day would be even preferable. By acting in this way the owner would obtain a better result than by obliging stallions to jump four or five times in the twenty-four hours.--" Traité de Physiologie Longet," p. 779.