This section is from the book "Aphrodisiacs And Anti-Aphrodisiacs", by John Davenport. Also available from Amazon: Love Stimulants, Aphrodisiacs and Anti-aphrodisiacs.
"A young man whose wife's relations had promised him a considerable estate as soon as she proved to be pregnant, fatigued himself to no purpose by continued devotions at the shrine of love; his over anxiety defeating the very object he so ardently desired to accomplish. In despair at the failure of his repeated efforts, he was, at length, on the point of believing his wife barren, when, following the advice of a judicious physician, he absented himself from home for a fortnight, and upon his return proved by the success which attended his amorous labours, that absence is sometimes the best doctor".
"A noble Venetian, aged twenty years, was married to a very handsome lady, with whom he cohabited with a good deal of vigour, but never could emit semen in the coition, whereas in his dreams he could discharge very freely. This misfortune very much afflicted him and his family; and as no remedy could be found at home, the Venetian ambassadors residing at the different courts of Europe were desired to consult some of the most eminent physicians in the cities where they resided, to account for the causes, and to find a cure for this extraordinary complaint of the difference of the states when in sleep and when actually in coition.
"I was of opinion that it consisted altogether in the uretha being closely shut by the vigour of the erection in coition which found so great a resistance that the powers that throw the seed out of the vesicultaeseminals could not overcome it; whereas, in dreams, the pressure on the uretha being much less, an evacuation was affected".
The method of cure was not less successful than obvious from the foregoing account: for gentle evacuations and a slender diet brought about and fully completed their desires.*
Cabanis is of opinion that debility of the stomach almost always produces a similar state in the organs of generation.
"L'energie ou la debilite de l'estomac produit, presque toujours, un etat analogue dans ceux de la generation. J'ai soigne un jeune homme chez qui la paralysie accidentelle de ces derniers avait ete produit par certains vices de la digestion stomachique; et qui reprit la vigueur de son age, aussit6t qu'il eut recouvre: la puissance de digerer. †
Old Montaigne's advice in cases similar to those above cited is worthy of notice."As to what concerns married people," says he, "having the year before them, they ought never to compel, or so much as offer at the feat, if they do not find themselves very ready. And it is better indecently to fail of handling the nuptial sheets, and of paying the ceremony due to the wedding night, when man perceives himself full of agitation and trembling, expecting another opportunity at a better and more private leisure, when his fancy shall be better composed, than to make himself perpetually miserable for having misbehaved himself, and being baffled at the first result. Till possession be taken, a man that knows himself subject to this infirmity, should leisurely and by degrees make certain little trials and light offers, without attempting at once to force an absolute conquest over his own mutinous and indisposed faculties; such as know their members to be naturally obedient to their desires, need to take no other care but only to counterplot their fancy.
The indocile and rude liberty of this scurvy member, is sufficiently remarkable by its importunate, unruly, and unseasonable tumidity and impatience at such times as we have nothing for it to do, and by its most unseasonable stupidity and disobedience when we stand most in need of its vigour, so imperiously contesting the authority of the will, and with so much obstinancy denying all solicitations of hand and fancy. And yet, though his rebellion is so universally complained of, and that proofs are not wanting to condemn him, if he had, nevertheless, feed me to plead his cause, I should, peradventure, bring the rest of his fellow-members into suspicion of complotting the mischief against him, out of pure envy of the importance and ravishing pleasure peculiar to his employment, so as to have, by confederacy, armed the whole world against him, by malevolently charging him alone with their common offence."*
* Medical Essays published by a society in Edinburgh, vol. I., p. 270. Case reported by W. Cockburn, M,D.
†Rapport, tome II., p. 422.
Too great warmth of clothing round the parts of generation, or too great pressure upon them, may be reckoned as causes of impotency. The custom of wearing breeches was considered by Hippocrates † as a predisposing cause of the impotency so common among the ancient Scythians. Mr. Hunter was also of opinion that this article of dress by keeping the parts too warm, affording them a constant support, and allowing the muscles but little freedom of motion, may, at least, relax and cause them to become flaccid, if it do not totally incapacitate them for the due performance of their functions.
Equally disadvantageous, in this respect, is the practice of riding upon horseback, as the organs of generation are, of necessity, frequently compressed either against the saddle or the horse's back. Lalemant, in his Commentaries upon Hippocrates, adduces the case of bakers, upon whom, by their not wearing breeches, the contrary effect is produced."We have often heard," says he, "that bakers and others whose parts of generation are not covered by clothing, but hang freely, have large, well-gown testicles. *
* Essays, Book I., chap. xx. Cotton's translation, † Hippocrates de Aer: aqua et loco, 210.
Another cause of impotency is the allowing the parts of generation to remain too long in a state of inaction. Those parts of the body which are most exercised are always found to be better grown, stronger, and more fitted for the discharge of their natural functions provided the exercise be neither too violent nor too frequent. The parts, on the contrary, which are condemned to rest and inactivity wither and gradually lose their tone,as well as the power of effecting the movements natural to them. Galen observes that the genital organs of the athlete, as well as those of all such whose profession or calling compelled them to remain chaste, were generally shrunken and wrinkled like those of old men, and that the contrary is the case with those who use them to an excess. "All the athlete," says he, "as well as those who for the sake of preserving or improving the voice, are, from their youth, debarred the pleasures of love, have their natural parts shrunken and wrinkled like those of old men, while, in such as have from an early age indulged in those delights to an excess, the vessel of those parts, by the habit of being dilated, cause the blood to flow there in great abundance, and the desire of coition to be proportionately increased, all which is a natural consequence of those general laws which all our faculties obey.
Thus it is that the breasts of women who have never had children remain always small, while those of females who have been mothers, and who suckle their children, acquire a considereble volume, that they continue to give milk as long as they suckle their infants, and that their milk does not fail until they cease to nourish them."* So well, indeed, was this fact known to the ancients, that Aristophanes uses the expression, ωóoθην μνκρaν pennm exiguum, as an attribute of a youth who has preserved his innocence and кwληv μεγάληυ, penem magnum, as the sign of a dissolute one.
* Treatise on the Venereal Disease.