This section is from the book "The Transmission Of Life. Counsels On The Nature And Hygiene Of The Masculine Function", by George H. Napheys. Also available from Amazon: The Transmission of Life.
Although this is the physician's business and not the patient's, and although it is no part of our plan to instruct or to advise the sick to heal themselves, there are some remarks we have to make under this head, which if borne in mind and observed, will very materially assist the doctor, and aid those who cannot obtain the services of one. There is hardly any complaint in which treatment will be less satisfactory, unless the patient co-operates with his adviser. He must renounce injurious and irregular habits, shun evil companions, keep watch and ward over his emotions, avoid as he would the pest all prurient literature, and live a chaste life. If he will not or cannot do this, he is lost.
Hardly less important is it that he should strive by occupation, innocent recreations, study, and refined society to divert his thoughts from his symptoms. Nine-tenths of the misery which spermatorrhoea brings arises directly or indirectly from mental sources. If it cannot be thrown off it can be dodged, and no effort or expense should be spared to seek genial and proper diversions. Nearly all such patients have a penchant for reading semi-medical books, and take a gloomy satisfaction in perusing over and over again the long trains of appalling symptoms which some writers have gathered together as indicative of seminal losses. If such reading strengthened the will to resist temptation, or acted as a salutary warning, we should not say a word against it. But this is conspicuously not the case. It only serves to make them still more hypochondriacal and unnerved. Let it be altogether eschewed.
Of the methods of cure, one has acquired an unfortunate publicity through its ignorant and often injurious employment - this is by cauterization. Many sufferers have had their pains greatly and uselessly increased by its injudicious application, many more have submitted to it when they had no disease at all, and were only hypochondriacal, and tormented by imaginary evils. It is rarely that it need be employed, and should never be thought of for a moment when in the hands of an advertising or itinerant charlatan.
Our most emphatic warning - and we cannot lay too much stress upon it - is to shun irregular empirics and those who advertise themselves as "specialists" in this department. Most scandalous cases of extortion, mal-practice, and blackmail come up before the police courts of our city nearly every year, and show most plainly how these insatiable leeches cajole and frighten their victims to the last degree, and for all their money furnish no sort of relief. Let the sufferer appeal to some regular physician of good repute, and preferably, one whom he personally knows, rather than run any such risks.
"When the seminal losses occur during sleep, they can generally be checked by taking the following prescription after each meal, care being had not to allow it to touch the teeth, which it is apt to injure :-
Muriated tincture of iron, twenty drops ; Water, one tablespoonfal.
A cold bath should be taken just before retiring, the water being poured along the spine from a height, for three to ten minutes. The bladder should be thoroughly emptied, and a position on the back avoided, as this posture allows the urine to accumulate and press upon that portion of the bladder which is most sensitive. It is sometimes necessary when one cannot break himself from assuming such a position during sleep, to wear a plate with a projecting piece, fastened on the back with a strap or belt, or what is equally good, to tie a towel around the body with a hard knot in it just over the spine.
Several means have been devised to prevent erections during sleep, and instrument makers vend for this purpose "spermatorrhoeal rings." which have on their inner surface sharp points. These are worn at night, and the pain caused by the points wakes the person as soon as the erection commences.
Such contrivances rarely answer the purpose on account of their inconvenience, and the difficulty of procuring them when wanted. A better and cheaper plan has lately been suggested by Dr. "Wood, in the Canada Medical Journal. He reports having used successfully in two cases of this kind, one a very desperate and intractable one, in which all other measures had failed, the following simple method: " I took a strip of isinglass adhesive plaster, two inches long by half an inch wide, moistened it, and applied it along the back of the member. It worked like a charm, and the young man has not been troubled since, when the plaster is on. He is now entirely recovered and at work at his trade."
This method will also prove of service in those obstinate cases where self-pollution is carried on during sleep, and at no other time. Mr. Acton relates the case of a young man who could break himself of this only by tying his hands to a cord passed around his neck; and Prof. S. M. Bemiss, of the University of Louisiana, mentions in the New Orleans Journal of Medicine, one of his patients, a boy of eighteen, who had brought on epilepsy by nocturnal masturbation, to prevent which they tied his hands and feet nightly to the bed posts.
The French surgeon, M. Doisneau, has recently published a description of an instrument he uses for this purpose, which interrupts the circulation to the genital organs, and thus renders erection impossible. He has used it with signal success in several cases. It consists of a strap passing between the thighs, to which are fastened two tightly-stuffed balls, which compress the arteries leading to the member, and cut off the supply of blood.
This bandage is applied over the shirt upon retiring for the night, and by means of straps we can obtain a compression sufficient to render an erection very rare, if indeed it ever takes place, the circulation being so interrupted that the parts remain benumbed, and as though paralyzed by sleep.
[Authors and Works referred to in this section : Dr. Van Buren, Lecture on Spermatorrhea, N. Y. Med. Gazette; Correspondence on Spermatorrhoea, Med. and Surg. Reporter, May and June, 1870; Prof. Niemeyer, Text Book of Practical Medicine. vol. ii. ; Lallemand, Practical Treatise on Spermatorrhoea; Dr. Marris Wilson, Diseases of the Vesiculae Seminales, chap. iii. v. vi.; Dr. Albert Mailer, Ueber Unwillkurliche Samenverluste; Bemiss, in New Orleans Journal of Medicine, Oct. 1869; Half Yearly Compendium of the Medical Science, Jan. 1867; Erichsen, System of Surgery ; St. Louis Medical Archives; Dr. Wood, Canada, Medical Journal; Mr. Teevan, British Medical Journal, May, 1870. Doisneau's apparatus is described in Le Courier Me-dicale, 1869; and the St. Louis Medical Archives, same year.l