( Originally Published Early 1900's )
SEMINAL losses are so common among young men as to be almost universal, and even when not definitely weakening often cause much mental distress and worry.
Though these losses most frequently take the form of nocturnal emissions during sleep, they may also occur as daytime emissions—often in connection with straining at stool—or, occasionally, as discharges backward into the bladder, or as the gradual leakage to which has been given the name of spermatorrhea. These involuntary losses of the seminal fluid are extremely debilitating in certain cases; in others they may be more alarming than injurious, and detrimental chiefly through their mental effect upon the victim.
The subject of night losses is especially important because they are so common. Furthermore, so many terrifying things have been said about this disorder in "quack" literature that the young man should be clearly informed as to its true significance and effect in order to avoid needless worry, and also to save himself from spending every spare dollar for treatment at the hands of these quack doctors.
If you avoid the quack and go to a reputable physician, you will probably be told that nocturnal emissions are entirely normal if not occur-ring at too frequent intervals. And it is undoubtedly true that if you are vigorous and these emissions take place only at intervals of ten days or more, they will not be likely to have any injurious effect. You can feel quite certain of this, especially if you experience no immediately weakening effects. A great many young men complain that the day following one of these night losses they suffer from great lassitude and depression. This is the usual result in a serious case, and yet I am satisfied that in many in-stances such symptoms are of purely mental origin, the result of the fear and horror with which the victim himself regards the complaint. We must remember that what may prove harmful to one constitution may not have any apparent effect on another. To one who is vigorous and active these losses may not be materially weakening, even if they occur at intervals of one week or more frequently. Of course these cases are exceptional, for such frequency is usually harmful. I mention them only to show that there is no iron-clad rule in the matter.
The primary cause of too many seminal losses is to be found chiefly in the stimulating influences of our artificial civilized life, but the direct cause in nine cases out of ten is undoubtedly masturbation. Through this habit there has been established a continuous active secretion of the seminal fluid, and after the practice has been stopped the excessive and rapidly accumulating secretion naturally finds an outlet through these emissions, occurring at intervals the frequency of which depends largely upon the extent to which self-abuse has been carried on and the parts concerned weakened. It frequently happens, also, that when one has been married and accustomed to regular sexual intercourse, involuntary emissions occur when this relationship is suddenly discontinued.
Physicians sometimes go so far as to say that night losses are the normal experience of all healthy and vigorous young men. It is certainly true that the most robust athletes may experience them. But I believe there is usually some special cause for them. It may be that nocturnal emissions would occur sometimes in the case of a full-blooded and healthy young man who had never indulged in either sexual intercourse or masturbation, simply through the natural active secretion of the sexual glands, and perhaps partly as a result of more or less amorous excitement, as there is no question that various mental influences, such as lascivious thoughts, erotic stories, suggestive theatrical performances, vulgar jokes and other stimulating factors have a great deal to do with the question in all cases. I am inclined to think, however, that these losses would occur very rarely if there were not some predisposing cause such as masturbation or habitual sexual indulgence.
For this reason I would hardly be ready to say that night losses are ever really normal, in a strict sense. I feel that the generative glands would never form such an excess of their secretions as to make this means of relief necessary, if they were not over-stimulated or overworked. I believe that such emissions are always more or less abnormal, although from a practical stand-point they may not be actually injurious if not occurring too often.
It is claimed that they may be natural or "physiological" in healthy young men, and that they are "pathological" or indicative of some disorder or weakness only under certain circumstances; and while I would never call them "physiological" in the strict sense, yet for practical purposes we may regard them as such in those cases where they apparently do no real harm, assuming that they merely serve as an outlet for the accumulated secretions. But how may the young man distinguish? How may he know when the condition is, or is not, serious?
The frequency of the losses is. one indication, though not always sufficient in itself. As a rule, nocturnal emissions two or three times a month are nothing to worry about. Usually they will not be found to have any weakening result the following day, and there will be no later loss of health or energy. In the case of a few vigorous, full-blooded young men they may occur even more often without serious results, though once a week, except for those possessed of unusual vigor, is really too often. Any greater frequency calls for attention, with the application of treatment such as I will outline. Losses which leave the victim depressed, nervous and out of sorts the next day, or a few days after, even though they occur only once or twice a month, should also receive immediate attention. I need hardly say that they are "pathological" in such cases. There are instances in which they take place as often as once daily, or even more frequently, but such extremes are rare.
When the immediate result of seminal losses is physical and mental depletion—lassitude, sluggishness of all the vital processes, and difficulty in study or concentrated thinking—their character is plainly indicated as pathological. When no immediate ill effects are noticeable, however, they may be making an excessive drain upon the system, and quietly undermining the constitution. Therefore the absence of evidence that harm has been done is not always a sure sign that all is well.
The character of the symptoms accompanying the emissions provides a more reliable means of determining whether or not they are physiological or pathological.
As a rule, with a healthy young man, night losses are accompanied by amorous dreams, together with the physical sensations characteristic of an orgasm, with the result that he wakes up.
If, however, a young man has these losses repeatedly, such a weakening of the sexual function may result that he will eventually have them without any dreams, or voluptuous sensations and without waking up. In such a case they are unmistakably pathological, and may be followed by daytime losses occurring on the occasion of the least sexual excitement, or even with-out any provoking cause whatever, and without any consciousness of them. In some cases any mental excitement or unusual mental effort is sufficient to induce them. You may understand that when they occur in the daytime it is usually because the sexual organs have become very seriously weakened. Under such circumstances there is little or no sensation. One may be so weakened in this respect that the touch of a woman's clothing, or even conversation with her, will cause an emission.
Now, it may be said that the night losses accompanied by voluptuous dreams and sensations, followed by waking, represent the normal or physiological type of involuntary emissions. If not too frequent there is little or nothing to feel concerned about. When there is no dream or sensation, and one does not wake up, it is clear that there is already a decided weakness of the sexual system. When the losses occur in the daytime they indicate an even more serious weakness of the organs, and the nerve-centers controlling them.
There are cases of seminal losses in which the emissions take place backward into the bladder, and do not appear externally. This of course means a marked condition of weakness of the parts and a feeble ejaculation. The structures concerned lack tone. A strong ejaculation would expel the fluid in the normal way. In, cases of this kind, the water passed first thing in the morning is clouded, examination showing that the condition is due to semen. One wakes tired and depressed, with all the ordinary symptoms that go with debilitating losses, and yet without apparent cause. I should also say, however, that mere cloudiness of the urine does not necessarily indicate this trouble, for, that may be due to catarrh of the bladder or some other condition. It is only by laboratory examination that the cause of such cloudiness can be definitely deter-mined. The treatment should be the same as for seminal losses under other conditions.
Spermatorrhea is the most serious and weakening of all seminal losses, but is only experienced as a rule in the later or final stages of a case that has been going from bad to worse. It is some-times a feature of organic spinal-cord or brain disease, being really a symptom in such an in-stance.
Trouble begins, usually, with the ordinary night losses, amorous dreams and waking up. If these are too frequent, or depressing in effect, there will follow a continuous weakening of the sexual parts until the sufferer does not wake up in case of night losses, and in time comes to have day losses without sensation and without an erection. As he becomes still weaker he may develop spermatorrhea, which is a sort of "leaky" condition in which the seminal fluid oozes out, without any exciting cause, at any and all times. This disorder has often been compared to the condition of a leaky faucet, and when it has been established the debility of the patient becomes extreme, for it involves a terrible drain upon the vital resources of the body.
However, it is very important to distinguish between real spermatorrhea and prostatorrhea, which is simply a loss of the secretion from the prostate gland. The fact is that true spermatorrhea is very unusual and prostatorrhea is fairly common; and while the loss of the seminal fluid is extremely devitalizing, the loss of prostatic fluid is far less serious. Of course the quacks in their literature have not failed to do everything they could to scare the young man, and so all symptoms involving a loss of mucus, prostate fluid or anything else, are declared to indicate spermatorrhea. Hence if the complaint does not nearly kill the young man, the worry does. I will discuss prostatorrhea in the chapter on the prostate gland. It often goes along with seminal losses. The only way in which one can absolutely distinguish between prostatorrhea and spermatorrhea is by means of a laboratory examination. It may be worth while to spend the money necessary for such an examination if you are worried, in order to set your mind at rest and be convinced that there are no spermatozoa in the discharge. Real spermatorrhea is so unusual, however, that in most cases you can practically take it for granted that the discharge is prostatic. Only in extreme debility, with all the symptoms of neurasthenia, is it necessary to consider the question of spermatorrhea.
A very common complaint in connection with sexual weaknesses is that of supposed seminal losses occurring while straining at stool. The medical quacks have had a great deal to say about this, in order to frighten young men. Again, the mucus appearing at this time is usually prostatic fluid, though there are some true cases of defecation spermatorrhea. The fact is that these apparent seminal losses at stool, while not natural by any means, are not at all so serious as has been represented. They are far from being so alarming as true spermatorrhea, or ordinary involuntary losses of semen by day. The mucus secretions of other small glands may also be involved in these discharges while at stool, and if one suffers from seminal losses to any great extent there may be a mixture of semen in these discharges. But if one does not have other seminal losses with little or no provocation or sensation, then it is unlikely that the losses while at stool are anything but prostatic fluid. Accordingly, this symptom should not frighten you to death, although it is to be taken as an indication that the prostate gland is probably more or less enlarged and sensitive. ( See the chapter on the prostate gland and its disorders.) I may say that freedom from constipation will do a great deal in cases of this kind, even if you find it necessary to use an occasional enema to prevent the colon from being distended and thus pressing too much upon the prostate and seminal vesicles. Always avoid straining at stool. Try to depend upon the natural action alone. If you use enough water and fruit you can probably do this. It will also help to prevent these losses if you will press upon the posterior urethra just under or back of the scrotum, in the perineal region, when at stool.
Mucus discharges following urination are like-wise symptoms of prostatorrhea in most cases, although in exceptional cases there may be true micturition spermatorrhea, indicating weakness and laxity of the seminal vesicles and ejaculatory ducts. In such cases vigorous treatment is necessary.
Spermatorrhea does not often occur except after the most excessive masturbation, as for in-stance when it has been practiced daily or even more than daily, for some time. In the face of abuses of this kind one cannot be surprised at the breaking down of the organs concerned. In some cases spermatorrhea may set in while the victim still continues the habit.
The results of excessive seminal losses upon the constitution are very much the same as those of masturbation, inasmuch as there is the same drain of the chemically rich and highly vitalized semen. So that even after one has stopped the secret habit one may continue to experience the same weakening symptoms as a result of too frequent night losses, unless the general health is rapidly built up. Even then one will not be able to avoid some of the consequences for a time; the night losses cannot be stopped all at once.
Naturally, the system can ill afford the frequent loss of the highly phosphorized seminal fluid, and the effect upon the brain is especially pronounced, as in the case of masturbation. The typical loss of memory, lack of mental energy, lack of ambition and difficulty in concentration of thought in work or study for any length of time are all pronounced in any serious case of seminal losses. You may know, therefore, that just as soon as you have improved in your ability to think, remember and do other mental work, you have made a very great improvement in your condition, even though the seminal losses have not stopped entirely. You cannot expect to stop them at once. But if you decrease their frequency, or if you find that they have a less weakening effect upon you when they do occur, that means a very pronounced improvement and you should be tremendously encouraged.
In respect to the physical symptoms, in a serious case the sufferer from seminal losses experiences great muscular and nervous debility. He lacks strength and endurance. He gets out of breath quickly upon any exertion, and may even experience some palpitation of the heart (nervous) He has a tired feeling, his legs feel heavy, his circulation is feeble and he is likely to have considerable trouble with stomach and bowels. He may have a marked lack of appetite, or on the other hand may eat like a wolf, apparently unable to get enough. His tongue is usually coated, he is likely. to be constipated, or may be subject to diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and other digestive disturbances. He may have headaches, pains in the back of the head, a weak back and more or less discomfort in the perineum. The generative organs are sometimes atrophied and cold, and the testicles small and tender, or perhaps painful at times. Usually there is a loss of sexual desire, and sometimes actual dislike for the opposite sex. In some instances, owing to a state of irritability of the parts, sexual desire is increased, even though the sexual power has been lost or greatly lessened. This loss or impairment of function is invariable, involving "prematurity" in practically all cases where there is not complete impotence.
Of course, these marked symptoms are usually found only in those suffering from spermatorrhea or from other excessive losses. Even the more normal nocturnal emissions, or erotic "wet dreams," however, have a similar weakening effect if they occur too often, though to a less marked extent.
Thousands of young men complain of noticing a discharge of a drop or two of mucus when in the company of a member of the opposite sex to whom they are strongly attracted. Many of them naturally suppose that it is a serious symptom of weakness, or perhaps of spermatorrhea. There is no special cause for alarm in this, following an erection, since it is only a slight glandular discharge of mucus and usually bears no relation to one's general- sexual condition. In some cases when there is a more copious discharge, it may be prostatic or seminal fluid.
I may say such symptoms rarely appear except in unmarried men., They are merely the result of the excitement of the parts. It is hardly necessary to add that unmarried men should avoid excitement of this sort, for it is unhealthful and unwholesome from every stand-point. Do not be alarmed by such departures from normal conditions, but do not place your-self in a position in which they are likely to occur, for if often repeated they will be seriously harmful.
The only physiological course for the unmarried man to pursue is to avoid all sexually stimulating influences. Since he cannot gratify his passion he should do nothing to arouse it, since by so doing he places an unnecessary strain upon the organs involved. Let the sex instinct sleep until you are ready to undertake marriage. There is only one safe road for the unmarried man, and that is to avoid all influences which will excite the generative organs.
What is one to do for night losses? It is necessary to tone up the sexual system, strengthening the nerves, muscles and all tissues concerned. In order to do this the first requirement is to improve the circulation and build general bodily vigor according to the methods set forth in the chapter on virility building.
You will be greatly handicapped in your efforts, however, if you do not observe certain mental requirements in the way of keeping the mind free from lascivious thoughts and sexually stimulating influences. Do this, as I have already suggested, by so filling the mind with wholesome activities and interests that there will be no room or time for sensuality. Remember that it was the mental attitude that was first chiefly responsible for the trouble. So long as you harbor erotic thoughts they will cause congestion of the generative organs and the filling up of the seminal vesicles with an excessive secretion. It is true that it is partly the effect upon the brain of the accumulation of semen in these reservoirs that causes the mind to turn to these thoughts, but at the same time by striving to keep the imagination at rest and the mind clean and occupied with other things, you will be able to avoid this condition. It is largely a matter of mental habit. Avoid suggestive literature. Don't read novels that dwell upon passionate love-making. Avoid the burlesque theatres. Avoid caressing members of the opposite sex and all other exciting influences or conditions.
So far as possible, live a non-stimulating life in other ways. Too much excitement of any kind is undesirable until your condition has been improved. A quiet farm life would be good excrept when it is found so monotonous and lacking in interest as to cause the mind to turn to sexual matters. A country life is for this reason the very worst for certain people, though in most cases it is the best.
A non-stimulating diet is especially important so long as there exists the sensitive and irritable condition which causes seminal losses to occur on the slightest provocation. Therefore meat should be used very sparingly. Eggs, if used at all had better be limited to one each day. Stimulating drinks and condiments should be shunned. Overeating should be particularly avoided. One should not eat anything on going to bed and it is better not to eat a very heavy meal in the evening. The heartiest meal should be eaten in the middle of the day.
It is perhaps still more important to avoid drinking water before going to bed or during the evening, and even to avoid the free use of liquids at supper. The reason for this is that a full bladder during the night often helps to cause an emission through pressure upon the prostate gland and seminal vesicles, producing irritation and excitement of these parts. The bladder should be emptied before going to bed, and if you can form the habit of waking up at about twb o'clock in the morning, to empty the bladder again, it would do a great deal to prevent seminal emissions from taking place. I cannot over-emphasize this point.
Constipation must also be guarded against.
It greatly aggravates the trouble, and is often a contributing cause, inasmuch as a full colon crowds all the surrounding parts and a distended rectum presses directly against the prostate gland and seminal vesicles. It will be greatly in your favor if the bowels can be evacuated before going to bed. You will probably find that you can make this 'a habit, if you try. (See my discussion of constipation in another chapter.)
Avoid sleeping on the back. If you find that you are inclined to turn over on your back in your sleep, it would be well to improvise a belt consisting of a towel or some other piece of fabric of suitable size and shape, with a large knot in the middle of the back, or some hard object similarly placed, so that if you turn over on your back it will distm.b you and force you to change your position. A position illustrated in my book Vitality Supreme, half side and half face down-ward is especially valuable in this trouble.
Open-air life and plenty of exercise to strengthen the sexual system are especially advised. The movements in the chapter on exercises for virility building are all satisfactory for the purpose. Many persons find it convenient to take their exercise in the evening, but exercise before going to bed sometimes seems to aggravate the trouble through the over-stimulation of the parts. In such cases the exercise should be taken only in the morning, while the evening is passed quietly, except for walking. In all cases, however, exercises of a truly strengthening nature at some time of the day are essential.
All forms of cold bathing, in conjunction with exercise, will be advantageous. Swimming, for instance, is highly to be recommended. But the cold sitz-bath has a special and extraordinary value in most cases of this kind, serving not only as a general tonic, but having a particularly invigorating effect sexually. It tones up the organs concerned, and if taken regularly every morning after one's exercise, will assist greatly in overcoming weaknesses of this kind. The colder the water the better. Special tubs are made for sitz-bathing purposes, but you can use an ordinary bath-tub or wash-tub, filling it with eight or ten inches of water,, and then immersing only the hips and pelvic regions by sitting down in it. You should be fairly warm before taking the bath, and in winter it may be better to take it in a warm room so that you will recuperate promptly. If your ability to stand the cold water and recuperate is weak, it would help to place the feet in hot water before or during the sitz-bath. You could stay in the bath from one to five minutes. Colder water for a shorter time would be more effective than water of a moderate temperature for a longer time, if you can stand it.
But even the sitz-bath must be used with some discretion. I have known cases in which the cold sitz-bath increased the frequency of the losses. The reason for this is probably that the invigor ating effect of the baths has in such cases produced an even more active secretion than usual, while the muscles and the controlling nerves are still too weak to control it. Probably the continued use of the cold water would in time tone up all these parts inducing, eventually, a decrease in the losses, but it is usually best, in such cases, to use the hot sitz-bath instead, for the sake of relieving any irritation and quieting the nerves. We must not forget that in many cases excessive night losses are associated with an extremely sensitive condition of the prostate gland and the posterior urethra, which condition should naturally be corrected as speedily as possible. The hot sitz-bath is one of the most satisfactory and effective of treatments for this purpose. Water at 115° to 118° Fahrenheit, or as hot as you can stand it, may be used, the bath being continued from three to five minutes, with a subsequent quick sponging or bathing of the genitals with cold water to prevent excessive relaxation of the blood vessels. When there is any irritability of the bladder this hot sitz-bath will likewise be helpful. When it appears that the prostate gland is exceedingly irritable and sensitive, and perhaps largely to blame for the night losses, one should for a time concentrate on the treatment for prostatic troubles given in the chapter on that subject, using especially the hot rectal irrigation mentioned in that connection.
One should not, however, depend upon baths and local treatment of that character. Everything possible should be done to build vitality and improve the circulation. Mountain climbing, outdoor pastimes, cross-country walks, and out-door sleeping are especially valuable. Air baths are of great benefit in toning up the nerves. There should be no excess of clothing or over-heating of the body. Especially the lower part of the trunk should not be too warmly or too tightly covered. With shirts overlapped about the abdomen and hips by the drawers and trousers the parts under consideration are too much covered, and it is to. be regretted. If the generative organs could be kept cool and more or less exposed to the air, as in the Scotehman's "kilt," it would be of great advantage. It would also be well to provide for an air bath for this part of the body during sleep, by raising the coverings by means of a safety-pin fastened into them at the middle, and held up by a cord passing from the top of the foot of the bed to the top of the head. I have described and illustrated this plan in detail in my book, Vitality Supreme.
How long will it take to overcome night losses? It is simply a question of toning up the organs involved, with their muscles and the controlling nerve-centers. Wonderful results may be secured in a few weeks in many cases, if the suggestions for treatment are followed faithfully. In other cases it may take months. When the condition is very deep-seated it may possibly take two or three years to overcome it entirely, though you should greatly improve long before the expiration of this time. Make up your mind to be well satisfied if you find that the losses soon de-crease to the extent that they no longer weaken you. Of course you should not stop at that. Keep right on striving for a perfect condition, building up nerve strength and bodily vigor until in the course of time you are entirely free from the complaint.
Don't attempt to marry while in this weakened condition, though I may say that if you marry after you have largely overcome your weakness, you will probably find yourself free from further annoyance of this sort. I do not mean that marriage always prevents seminal losses. A married man may so weaken his system as to suffer from them in spite of his marriage. But as a rule you will find that they will not occur after marriage if you have built up a certain degree of constitutional vigor and sexual strength before taking this step.
The treatment of spermatorrhea and day losses is identical with that for night Iosses, but one should be even more strict in the observance of the requirements of the treatment. In these cases it will be more than ever necessary to investigate the condition of the prostate gland, and suit the treatment to its requirements.
I might add that the bromide treatment is commonly prescribed by physicians for night losses, irrespective of individual requirements. The bromides often do take effect by so paralyzing the entire sex function that if their use is continued long enough complete impotence is likely to result. Sometimes after taking such treatment for a time the patient experiences a diminution of the losses, only to find them twice as bad as ever on stopping it, showing that it has weakened him. It is doubtful if bromides are ever safe or advisable, for when they produce results they probably do more harm than the disorder that they are intended to cure.