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.
The unmarried man, who purchases at a high price, and rarely, the pleasures of illicit love, is generally supposed to be the only sufferer from excess in the venereal act. Far from it. He is by no means alone. More commonly than is currently believed, the married man has to settle an account for immoderate indulgence.
To quote the words of a physician of wide experience: " Too frequent emission of the life-giving fluid, too frequent sexual excitement of the nervous system, is most destructive. Whether it occurs in married or unmarried people has little or nothing to do with the result.
" The married man who thinks that, because he is a married man, he can commit no excess, no matter how often the sexual act is repeated, will suffer as certainly and as seriously as the debauchee who acts on the same principle in his indulgences, perhaps more certainly from his very ignorance, and from his not taking those precautions and following those rules which a career of vice is apt to teach a man. Till he is told, the idea never enters his head that he has been guilty of great and almost criminal excess; nor is this to be wou-dered at, as such a cause of disease is seldom hinted at by the medical man he consults."
The nature of excess may be twofold; either it is a long-continued indulgence beyond the average power of the man to withstand, and which slowly but surely undermines his health, strength, and life; or it is brief and violent.
It is too often supposed that if only for a night, or a few nights, or a week or two, a man gives the reins to his passion and overtaxes his functions, a few days' rest will restore him. It does seem to, but often only seems. The ultimate consequences of libidinous excess, even when that excess is of very limited duration, are becoming more and more apparent to physicians.
Dr. Thomas Laycock, Professor of the Practice of Medi-cine in the University of Edinburgh, in an article published quite recently on this subject, states it as the result of his clinical experience, that "a great excess for a few days only, acting like a 'shock,' may manifest its consequences in the nervous system at a long distant subsequent period. A sudden, short, yet great excess may be more dangerous than more moderate, albeit excessive indulgence, extending over a long period. In certain constitutions, although only indulged in legitimately and for a short period, as after marriage, such excess may act like a shock or concussion of the spinal cord, or like a blow on the head, and may give rise to serious chronic diseases, as epilepsy, insanity, and paralysis."
The ordinary results of an abuse of the conjugal privilege are, in the man, very much the same as those brought on by self-abuse. Locally there is over-excitation, irritability, and possibly inflammation. The digestion becomes impaired, dyspepsia sets in, the strength is diminished, the heart has spells of palpitation, the spirits are depressed, spermatorrhoea may arise, the genetic powers lose their vigor, there is unusual sensitiveness to heat and cold, sleep is not refreshing, and a jaded, languid indifference takes the place of energy and ambition.
One of the most striking and characteristic effects is indi-cated in the throat and by the voice. There is a very close sympathy, and one not readily explained between the voice and the procreative function.
We have already mentioned the change from tenor to bass which takes place at puberty, and never occurs in eunuchs. Excessive indulgence often first shows itself by an impairment of vocal power, and a sense of dryness and hoarseness in the throat. Self-abuse and nocturnal losses produce the same effects in men otherwise continent. Often a chronic bronchitis or a loss of volume and strength in the voice is due to some disorder or overstraining of the masculine function, and the proper remedies must be directed in accordance with this fact.
A vast amount of ill-health arises from this unsuspected cause, and it is one of the benefits which we hope will accrue from a more public discussion of this topic than has yet been attempted, that there will be a general appreciation of the truth that a man for his own sake should exert self-denial in marriage.
Still more should he do so for his wife's sake. Very many women lose their health, and some, no doubt, their life, through the constant solicitations of their husbands. One of the ablest physicians of our country who has made the diseases peculiar to women his special study, Dr. Storer, says: " Among these diseases is a very large class occasioned or aggravated by excessive sexual indulgence." Of course we do but refer to this fact here, as we have elsewhere treated of woman's peculiar functions and the disorders to which they are liable, but we wish all men to know that often they may injure their Wives' health irretrievably by a self-indulgent course, and with this run the risk of ruining their own domestic happiness.
A foolish notion sometimes prevails that it is necessary to health to have frequent intercourse. We have already said that there is no condition of life more thoroughly in accordance with perfect vigor than chaste celibacy. Next to this comes moderation in married life. It is never required for sanitary reasons to abuse the privileges which law and usage grant. Any such abuse is pretty sure to bring about debility and disease.
They may be long coming, and the connection may often be obscure, but it is undeniable. The ancient Greek physicians were acquainted with the peculiar form of paralysis now technically called "locomotor ataxy," and attributed it to excess in venery. Modern observers have indorsed their opinion, and have traced beyond doubt the relation of cause and effect in a number of instances.
The question may now be put