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Emission is the second of the requisites specified at page 191 to complete intercourse.
NORMAL FUNCTIONS, OR CONDITIONS AFFECTING
It is thus described by Kirkes :-" The emission of semen is a reflex act, and as such is governed by the spinal cord. The irritation of the glans penis conducted to the spinal cord, and thence reflected excites the successive and co-ordinate contracting of the muscular fibres of the vasa deferentia and vesiculæ seminales, of the accelerator urinæ and other muscles of the urethra ; and a forcible expulsion of semen takes place over which the mind has little or no control, and which in cases of paraplegia may be unfelt.”—7th Edition, p. 506.
Valentin adds :-“This effect may be artificially produced in recently killed animals. The semen reaches the inferior and glandular part of the vas deferens. It then traverses the urethra to the orifice of the glans, when it is ejaculated with a force which in vigorous men can expel it to a distance of many feet.”— Valentin translated by Brinton, p. 625.
The semen, however, as emitted, is not the semen as it is secreted in the testes. It may be said, while in the testes, to be in little more than a rudimentary state. When ejaculated it is a highly elaborated secretion. None, in fact, amongst the various secretions of the body seems to require so much time to mature. Not only have cells to be formed and thrown off, as in the case of other secretions, but, after they are liberated in the tubercles of the testis, nuclei have to divide, nucleoli to multiply, and each division of the nucleoli to become, through a gradual adolescence, an adult spermatozoon. When thus prepared it is passed down the spermatic cords to the vesiculæ seminales. The vesiculæ, Pittard says, “are never found empty, except when they are diminished after the periodic rut in certain animals. They do, indeed, seem equally full at all times, but there is little doubt that this appearance is deceitful. They have the power of contracting and expanding, according to the volume of their contents, so that they are never flaccid, and always appear to be full. I have observed them exceedingly full and large in animals just killed, and have watched them contracting under the stimulus of exposure to cold air, and when nearly the whole of their contents have been expelled by the contraction they have still appeared to be quite full. I should have considered them to be so if I had not actually seen them expel their contents.” It is certain, nevertheless, that the whole contents of the vesiculæ are not emitted in one copulation. The possibility of the act of copulation, however, does not depend on the existence of matured semen in the vesiculæ.
Some authors, indeed, assert that emissions depend wholly on the presence of well-formed semen in the vesiculæ seminales. This, however, is incorrect, for Sir A. Cooper states that a patient of his, from whom he had removed both testes, was able, some time after ablation of the organs, to have connection, accompanied with the feeling of ejaculation; and even, at a later period, erection of the penis took place, but without the sensation of emission. In the East the value of a eunuch is much enhanced by ablation of the penis, as removal of the testes alone does not suffice to prevent erection.
The matured semen lies in the vesiculæ until the ejaculatory act is excited. This action is performed principally by the involuntary muscles of those organs. Kölliker says—“In ejaculation the vasa deferentia, provided, as they are, with a colossal muscular apparatus, are chiefly operative; these organs, as Virchow and I found in an executed criminal, shorten and contract with remarkable energy when excited by galvanism, as also do the vesiculæ seminales, the highly muscular prostrate, and of course the transversely muscular tissue of the urethra and penis.” (p. 243.)
The fascia that invests the vesiculæ seminales in man contains
a great proportion of involuntary muscular fibre, and there is also a large admixture of involuntary fibre in the proper parietes of the tube. In the elephant the vesiculæ seminales present, on the outer and anterior aspect, a peculiar muscle rising from the neck and middle part of the sac, and spreading out over the upper part, which can contract the cavity and expel the contents.
In animals that have a rutting season the vesiculæ seminales, as well as the testicles, prostate gland, &c., are exceedingly small during the period of rest, and enlarge enormously and rapidly previously to the season of rut.
The semen, before it is ejaculated, is not only matured, as has been described, but is mixed with the secretion of the vesiculæ seminales and with that of the prostate. The object of this dilution seems to be to render it more fluid, and thus more capable of passing easily along its course. As soon as the thick mucus of the vesiculæ seminales is squeezed out and meets the semen, the mixture becomes much more fluid than either of its component parts. Indeed, if the mucus is exposed to the air before the semen is added, it becomes almost solid.
It is owing to the abundance of these other secretions that ejaculation takes place after the removal of the testicles. A striking instance of this came under my notice a few years ago. On the 4th of January, 1859, Mr. Holthouse removed both testes from a man in consequence of his suffering from epilepsy. The case created a good deal of discussion at the time; and as the patient entered another hospital for a different complaint, a medical friend, thinking I should like to know the result, sent him to me, and on the 26th of March, 1859,—that is, nearly three months after the castration,—I ascertained the following particulars :
Within the week following the removal of the testes this man had two emissions. Since then three more emissions occurred, the last on the 2d of March ; that is, two months after the operation. At the time I saw him he appeared in no way distressed in mind, and I could note no symptoms betokening him a monomaniac. He complained of a frequent desire to make water. I tested the urine, but found it natural.
Sir Astley Cooper, in his observations on “ Diseases of the Testes," p. 54, mentions having removed both testes from a man. Four days afterwards the patient had an emission, which appeared upon his linen.
“For nearly the first twelve months he stated that he had emissions in coitu, or that he had the sensations of emission. That then he had erections and coitus at distant intervals, but without the sensation of emission. After two years he had erections very rarely and very imperfectly, and they generally ceased immediately upon the attempt at coitus. Ten years after the operation, he said he had during the past year been only once connected.
Twenty-eight years after the operation, he stated that for years he had seldom any erection, and then that it was imperfect; that he had no emissions from the first year of the operation; that he had for many years only a few times attempted coitus, but unsuccessfully; that he had once or twice dreams of desire, and a sensation of emission, but without the slightest appearance of it. The penis was shrivelled and wasted. He was in the habit of shaving once a week, and sometimes twice. His voice, naturally rather feeble, remained as at the time of the operation.'
Of the persistence of sexual desires, and to a certain extent sexual power, we read in Juvenal:
"Sunt quas eunuchi imbelles ac mollia semper
Et quod abortivo non est opus.” Köbelt imagines that excision of the glans penis would destroy all desire, as it is the rendezvous of the sensitive nerves which excite venereal desires.
That this statement is not borne out by facts, is clearly proved by the case in my own practice, related at page 135, where the glans penis had been destroyed, and yet the patient fully performed all his marital duties. We have also the experience of practical shepherds, who find that the removal of the “worms,” as they call the point of the penis in the ram, does not prevent the ram from attempting connection. Division of the pubic nerves, how
ever, seems infallibly to annihilate all sexual feeling, and to destroy at once the power and the desire of connection. Günther observes :
“ After division of the nerves of the penis (nervi dorsalis penis) the most powerful and erotic stallion appears almost at once to be more completely deprived of every sexual feeling than he could possibly be after castration.”—Günther, “ Untersuchungen und Erfahrungen im Gebiete der Anatomie, Physiologie, und Thierarzenei-Kunde,” Hanover, 1837, § 153.
EFFECT OF EMISSION IN THE MALE.—Emission in healthy males is attended with spasmodic excitement, followed by temporary nervous prostration. Lallemand calls this excitement ébranlement nerveux epileptiforme. This is seen in a very exaggerated form in the buck rabbit, who, after every copulation, may be noticed to fall on his side in a sort of epileptic fit; the whites of his eyes are turned up; he gives several spasmodic twitches with his hind legs, and lies panting for some moments, until the nervous system recovers itself.
There are some men in whom this sort of epileptiform orgasm takes place every time connection is indulged in. Napoleon I is said to have been subject to epilepsy when, resting from his great labors, he indulged in sexual intercourse. No doubt can exist that deaths which have occurred in houses of ill-fame, as well as on the marriage couch, have arisen from this cause acting upon highly susceptible organizations. Entomological works abound with cases in which the male dies after the act of copulation. The following, which reads almost like romance, may be explained, perhaps, by this epileptiform attack killing the frail insect. It is a brief history of the establishment and growth of a colony of termite ants, as related by Burmeister. "At the termination of the hot season, the
males and females quit the nest, and appear upon the surface of the earth, where they swarm in innumerable hosts, and pair. The busied workers then convey a chosen male and female back into the dwelling, and imprison them in the central royal cell, the entrances to which they decrease, and guard. Through these apertures the imprisoned pair then receive the nutriment they require.