This section of the book is from "The Complete Herbalist" by Dr. O. Phelps Brown. Also available from Amazon: The Complete Herbalist: The People Their Own Physicians By The Use Of Nature's Remedies.
The most impressive words in the whole range of language are Father and Mother. Their fill significance is only realized and understood when the prattling babe stretches out its tiny arms and first lispingly pronounces the tender words. The heart must, indeed, be dead to all emotion, which at that moment does not pulsate with pride and exalted love. The first words taught to it, and the first words learned, are those tender names, and the proudest moment of the whole of parentage is when the lesson is learned by, and let fall from, the lips of the smiling babe. The soul is elevated above material things, the tenderest chords of love are vibrated, the joys of the world but this one are forgotten, and the whole heart embraces but the innocent babe that sprung from their loins. The entity of the family is incomplete without children, and the action of its machinery is unharmonious without those little wheels. The integrity is faulty in the absence of offspring; it is like the pillar of which the capital and pedestal exist, but the shaft is wanting to give it dignity. The childless family is not a pleaseant one to contemplate; the husband and wife grow old, but there is no young life to inspirit them, or to give cheer to their existence. Childless longevity is at best but a dismal life -- there is always an aching void -- a palpable evidence of a lacking integer. Barrenness is a condition from which every woman instinctively recoils. The desire for children may or may not be entertained, yet to know that she is incapable of motherhood is to know that she is lacking in the most important element of womanhood. It is a physical condition abhorrent to every female, because she feels that she is beneath the dignity that distinctively characterizes her sex. Motherhood is the ideal state of womanhood, and the yearning for maternity is one born of nature. The woman in whose bosom such a desire makes no response is unworthy of her sex, and she deserves none of the elevated joys and honor which woman is sent here to achieve, and she will reap none. It is the highest honor her sex can reach, as productiveness entitles her to the proud position of one of the prime factors in the propagation of species.
None but physicians know how great the desire for children is in those whose married life has been passed for some time without issue. To them the secret yearnings of their hearts is intrusted, and to their confidence is reposed the animated impulse that is ceaselessly throbbing in the bosom of those whose hearth-stone is desolate, and around which gathers not a child. The outside world may not know of the painful vacancy that is ever confronting them, nor the despair that has possession of their hearts; but the physician, to whose skill they so earnestly appeal to accomplish the realization of their hope, is ever, and probably the only confidante. He alone knows the elevation of spirits, the fulness of pride, and the intensity of satisfaction that is manifested if he has removed the barrier to productiveness, and that the process of maternity is in progress. But let him say that the barriers to conception are insuperable, it causes a painful despondency, and that exquisite anguish resulting from unappeased yearnings of the soul. It is, however, a providential ordination that few women are hopelessly barren, and but few men unprocreative. Circumstances may for a certain time make them practically unproductive, but such a physical condition can in almost every case be removed by consistent treatment, and by observing such measures and precautions tending to promote fruitfulness. The causes of childlessness with certain married parties are various. It may be due to deformities of the womb, Fallopian tubes, and ovaries of the female; or testes, spermatic cord, and of the male organ. The pathological conditions are many, which occur in both sexes, that produce barrenness, while in some cases the anatomy of the parts render conception and child-bearing utterly impossible. It may be caused by stricture of the womb and Fallopian tubes, misplacement of the tubes, adhesions of the uterine walls, etc., ete, or through malformation, as occlusion of the vagina, etc. It may also be due to degeneracy of the testes of the male, epispadias, hypospadias, etc. Conception may also temporarily be prevented by uterine and ovarian diseases, or to a diseased condition of the spermatozoids of the male semen. Unproductiveness is frequently due to a devitalized condition of those animalculoids, in which state they have no fecundating properties. Sterility, dependent upon some vicious conformation of the genital organs of either sex, apparent or concealed, is called absolute. Infecundity, due to the conditions already enumerated, are absolute causes of sterility, and can only be removed by medical treatment, which in most cases, if of a rational and appropriate character, can effectually be accomplished. When a female does not conceive with one individual, but has or may with another, the condition is called relative sterility. Relative infecundity is frequently met with, and in many cases presents such features that the atociac condition cannot be overcome without calling to aid artificial means. It is often observed that a woman in her second marriage is sterile who in her first marriage was prolific in offspring; again, the widower in his first marriage gave evidence of fecundating power, but in his second alliance no impregnation ensures. Absolute and relative sterility may exist at the same time, thus a female may be married to a man who is physically incapable of impregnating her, yet at the same time the conformation of her genital organs may be such as to render her absolutely sterile. It is therefore necessary in all cases of sterility to fully investigate the causes, both absolute and relative. Sterility in some females is often dependent upon a condition of the womb characterized by membranous menstruation. Conception is prevented in such cases by devitalization of the semen by the vitiated secretion and discharges from the uterine surface. In all cases of absolute sterility, medical treatment offers the only hope of obliteration of the causes. The diseases of the female genitalia which are causative of infecundity must be treated as required by their pathological character; and it is necessary that such treatment should be admirably adapted to the conditions of the case, and most carefully instituted. Such cases should only be intrusted to physicians who by skill and experience have the requisite ability, and who are conversant with the precautions that studiously are to be observed. Improper treatment is exceedingly apt to render sterility an irremediable condition, which under rational treatment would have resulted in the removal of all the barrier to impregnation. If the cause lies in the male, whose formative material is devitalized by a diseased condition of the fabricating organs, seminiferous ducts, or seminal vesicles, medical treatment likewise is the only means of making the patient procreative. The male often renders himself powerless to procreate by imprudence or various excesses, in which case the semen is not fully organized and deficient in procreative elements. All these varied conditions of husband and wife contributing to childlessness are mainly remediable, so that under the care of an intelligent physician parentage to them is not always a forlorn hope. The prospect for issue is favorable in most cases under rational treatment, hence the gloom of the childless need not be perpetual if they but employ the counsel and aid of the competent physician. Neglect of so important a duty is very common, the conjugal pair stolidly agreeing that their childless state is owing to Divine ordinance, little dreaming that their unproductive union is in opposition to the requirements of the Deity, and that the fault of non-conception is due to incapacity and not to dispensation.