Victorian Cures for Nocturnal Emissions

For my degree, I recently needed to go through mid-19th century medical publications. And in these various journals, I kept coming across articles–I'm talking HUNDREDS of articles–about spermatorrhoea (or nocturnal emissions). After seeing a few dozen of these, I was like, "Guys, seriously, what is going on? Why the obsession?" So I decided to read some. And then I found the article I'm going to paraphrase ("The Conflicting Opinions on Spermatorrhoea and Continence: Treatment of Spermatorrhoea", The Lancet, Vol. 41, Iss. 1061, 30 December 1843, Pages 437–440).

Briefly, doctors (and society in general) were very concerned with anything they believed might cause a man impotency, the chief cause of which they worried was spermatorrhoea. They thought that nocturnal emissions not only severely decreased your sex drive, they also believed that it reduced the potency of one's sperm. And lord knows we can't have THAT. Not when it's one's duty as a British man to populate the world with little British poppets so we can keep conquering the globe, wot wot? Every sperm is sacred, blah blah.

So here are some medical "cures" to keep a man from becoming this special brand of impotent:

1.) Get married. Tire your penis out in the good old fashioned way. "The patient should marry, but he should not indulge in venereal combats more than once or twice a week". (Heh. "venereal combats". Like somehow sex has a "winner". Keep in mind, too, that they're saying, "The cure for impotency is sex". Yeah. Logic that one out.)
2.) Poop regularly. Or better yet, give yourself an enema every day.
3.) "The genitals and thighs [are] to be sponged in cold water" and you should scrub your skin raw with salt.
4.) "An injection, composed of twenty minims of the sedative liquor of opium in water, should be had recourse to every night on going to bed, care being taken to allow it to remain in the urethra for some time". (Aka, drugging your penis with opium).
5.) "A leech or two may occasionally be applied to the perineum".
6.) Sleep on your side, but propped up on pillows. Sounds comfortable.
7.) Remove tea, coffee and wine entirely from your diet. But but but an Englishman without his  tea? CIVILIZATION WILL COLLAPSE.
8.) Eat lettuce for supper.
9.) Don't cover up with blankets while you're sleeping. Look, if I'm sitting up AND on my side, and am starving from only having lettuce for supper, I might as well be cold, too.
10.) "Until it is perfectly cured, horse-exercise should be strictly prohibited". I guess you don't want the Countess of Aberdeen's electronic saddle vibrator, then.

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11 Responses to Victorian Cures for Nocturnal Emissions

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    I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. Slapping women on the street with a glove and challenging them to venereal combat at dawn has so far produced rather disappointing results.

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