« PreviousContinue »
a short time, produce enormous quantities with great rapidity, and probably expend most of it as it is secreted. The periodic enlargement of the testes, and the other changes noticed at the rutting season, supply this requirement. The animal system answers wonderfully to these sudden demands. We observe a similar process when nature is called upon for sudden and extraordinary supplies of horn and bone. Bone, we know, grows very slowly under ordinary circumstances; it is often deposited round fractures in less quantities than we wish it; yet such is the lavishness of nature when called upon, that a stag's antlers will be replaced fully in eleven weeks.
The injected preparation made by John Hunter of the testes of animals that have a rutting season, shows how a healthy male may secrete an almost unlimited quantity of semen for a short time. It should, moreover be borne in mind that the animal has two testes, only one of which probably is drained at a time, and a large quantity of semen is probably horded up in the testes and vasa deferentia.
THE QUANTITY OF SEMEN ACTUALLY EMITTED IN EACH SEXUAL ACT IN MAN amounts, generally, to two teaspoonfuls or one, according as the male has been continent or not. Of course, the whole of this emission does not consist only of pure semen. The secretion, as it leaves the meatus, is a heterogeneous compound. Pittard thus describes it :-“Some dilution, some addition to the volume, seems necessary in order to obtain an efficient injection of the life-giving fluid. And the quantity actually emitted by a man amounts, by all accounts, to two or three drachms. There has, therefore, been an addition somewhere. The prostate has doubtless contributed its share; the tiny glands of Cowper theirs ; the urethra has given its mite of mucus, more mucus is waiting in the vagina; and I believe that the vesiculæ are not behind in adding a portion of their ready-formed contribution to the general stock. The spermatozoa, huddled and crowded in countless millions in the vas deferens, are now able to disport themselves at ease in the congenial medium, and the number contained in a few drops of pure semen would be sufficient to people abundantly several drachms of fluid.”—Pittard, in “ Cyclop. of Anat. and Phys.,” article “l'esiculæ Seminales.”
INFLUENCE OF SECRETED SEMEN ON THE SYSTEM AT LARGE.— It is a generally received impression that semen once secreted can be reabsorbed into the circulation, giving buoyancy to the feelings, and the manly vigor which characterizes the male. This opinion, perhaps, has to some extent given rise to the celibacy of the priesthood.
In the article on eunuchs in the “ Dictionnaire des Sciences médicales,” p. 448, it is stated that no eunuch can now be received into the priesthood of the Catholic Church; "for although, adds the writer, “priests are required to observe a moral eunuchism, inasmuch as they must be bachelors, still they must have the merit of resistance to the thorns of the flesh, to obtain la palme de la récompense. There are, moreover, other considerations. Not only has it been desired to disembarrass the priest from the cares of a family, as the shepherd of souls, in order that he should charge himself with the great flock, but it has been intended to give to him a great moral energy, the result of chastity and celibacy, in order the better to direct other men. In fact, who is ignorant that the semen, reabsorbed into the animal economy, when it is not emitted, augments in an astonishing degree the corporeal and mental forces ? This powerful vital stimulant animates, warms the whole economy, places it in a state of exaltation and orgasm; renders it in some sort more capable of thinking and acting with ascendancy-with a superiority, as we equally observe amongst animals in the rutting
“ This state contributes so much to courage and vigor that the athletæ and gladiators were forbidden sexual intercourse from this cause, and the same was recommended to warriors : Moses directed the Israelites in war time not to approach their wives.”
It was some time before I ventured to advocate the doctrine of the reabsorption of semen into the system. There are, however, many facts which it is quite impossible, as it seems to me, to explain without believing that semen is really absorbed.
The effect of castration on the system is almost sufficient, alone, to lead to the inference that semen is reabsorbed. That semen has an influence on the system is obvious, from the marked difference between castrated and non-castrated animals. These differences cannot depend upon anything retained in the blood, and not excreted. The vigor of the uncastrated animal must depend upon the testes secreting semen—that is, taking its elements from the blood. This semen is slowly secreted by the testes, and passes slowly along the vasa deferentia towards their terminations, which are dilated, and some passes into the vesiculæ seminales; there and along the course of the vasa deferentia absorption probably takes place, if at all. (See Diagram, p. 286.)
Still, although some such absorption seems to occur, the amount of it has, no doubt, often been exaggerated.
In the present state of science we are unable to believe with Haller, that “the greater part of the semen—that which is the most valuable and the strongest smelling, that which has most force—is pumped back again into the blood, and there produces, as soon as it reaches the circulation, changes the most marvellous —the beard, the hair, the horn ; it changes the voice and the manners; for age does not produce these changes in animals, it is the seminal fluid alone which can effect this, as we never remark these changes in eunuchs.”—Primæ lineæ Physiol., § 790.
Accurate observation and science rather teach us that semen with its spermatozoa is probably not abstracted in toto or directly either into the venous or absorbent system. Most probably, when once secreted, it may, like other secretions that have not a free outlet, undergo fatty degeneration in the tubuli, and be carried away like other effete matter by the absorbents.
1 As competent authorities may differ on this subject, I subjoin the opinion of Kölliker. He says—“There are no certain facts in favor of an absorption of the semen when formed, which could only take place in the vasa deferentia and vesiculæ seminales ; for what is observed in animals after the rutting season is over, has no reference to this point; and the very circumstance that in the situations above mentioned, no traces of a disintegration of the semen are ever found, appears to be very much opposed to such a supposition. At the same time, however, it is, perhaps, unquestionable that, without seminal evacuations, a formation of semen may be possible; for it is sufficiently established that a rich heating diet, and an unsatisfied sexual excitement, often produces a turgescence of these organs, attended with painful sensations, and most probably with a formation of semen. The subsequent removal of this fullness does not, however, appear to me incontestably to prove any absorption; because a difference in the quantity of blood in the testes, and the passing of the semen into the vasa deferentia, are sufficient to account for the restoration of the usual condition.” (“Manual of Histology,” p. 241.)
If I were asked how does the system rid itself of the superabundant semen, I should answer first in the words of Kölliker:
“In Man the capability of producing semen, assuredly, always exists; although it does not appear to me to follow from this that semen is being continually formed, and that what is not emitted undergoes absorption; and consequently it seems justifiable to suppose that the seminal tubes secrete semen only when the secretion has been partially evacuated externally—either in consequence of sexual congress or of seminal emissions—and an excitement of the nervous system has caused an increased flow of blood to the testis.”—Manual of Histology, vol. ii, p. 241.
If this be the case, then we have not to account for much secretion in continent men. In others, I believe, nocturnal emissions will carry off a good deal; the effects of defecation and miciurition will also dispose of some. But admitting all this, I think we must infer that even in the testis itself absorption must take place, as we notice that the semen is secreted and disappears when the vasa deferentia are tied, or when inflammation has blocked up those canals, so as to prevent the egress of the spermatic fluid.
I was in the year 1864 consulted by an eminent physician who had very accurately observed bis own symptoms. There was a turgid condition of the testes, attended with pain. This gentleman told me that formerly, while leading a continent life, nocturnal emissions had occurred: but that latterly, when his wife was away from home, no emissions took place, and the testicles had become enlarged and painful. He considered this condition arose from their being, as it were, choked with semen, and had experienced, he said, great relief from occasionally taking Epsom salts and magnesia. My own opinion, however, was, as I told him, that his symptoms probably arose simply from ungratified sexual excitement.
It may be interesting if I add here a few facts with regard to animals which may seem to throw a light on this at present obscure subject. Sir Philip Egerton says
“Fawns, when cut prior to the formation of any horn—that is, within a week or so after birth—both testes being wholly removed, with a portion of the cord (vas deferens) also, will never bear horns, however long they may live; but if the bodies of the testes only be taken away, the “knob’ (epididymis) being left attached to the cord, the animal will have horns, and renew them annually, the shedding being always rather later in the season, and the velvet covering remaining for a somewhat longer period on their surface than with the entire buck; and, further, they will be more slender in the beam, and more porous in their internal structure. These semi-castrated—if I may so style them—animals will go into rut, but not to the degree which produces emaciation; nor does the great thickening of the neck occur which is so characteristic in the perfect animal during that peculiar season ; nor are they capable of procreation. When the adult buck is castrated, the horns are shed shortly afterwards, and renewed; but the persistent periosteum, or “velvet,' never separates from their surface, and the horns do not again fall, but remain attached during any period the animal may survive. These permanent antlers are often more developed than those produced by entire bucks of equivalent age, which I think may be well accounted for from the fattened state, and the longer influence, from the continued adherence of the vascular integument by which the horns are formed. I may here observe, that circulation continues in the bone or horn after the periosteum has separated, and that, diminishing by degrees, first from the points, the vessels become obliterated, and vitality therefore ceasing, it is cast off."-Gascoine, “On Castration of the Cervidæ ;” “ Proceedings of the Zoolog. Soc.” June, 1856, p. 156.
I have attempted to settle the question of the influence of semen on the system, by inquiries amongst those who have the largest opportunity of studying the subject amongst entire as well as gelded animals, with relation to the enduring qualities in males and females, and this is the information I have arrived at.
There can be no doubt that entire horses are capable of undergoing more work than geldings. It is a saying in Norfolk, that a stallion is equal in draught to one gelding and a half. One