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How To Build Virility

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

FOR one who has suffered any loss of virility, from whatever cause, and whose constitution is accordingly weakened to a greater or less degree, there is only one logical course to pursue, and that is to go to work like a man to become a man. I realize that a tendency to discouragement is a common characteristic of those who have been materially weakened in this way, and for this reason I would say to them that Nature responds wonderfully to rational treatment for bringing back a normal condition of any and all parts of the body. You will find that virility is a most persistent thing, if only given a chance. In fact, the reproductive power is so vital and enduring that one may usually recover from even a large amount of abuse, and even when one's original degree of virility cannot be fully re-gained suéh an improvement may be brought about, in nearly all cases, as to render one capable of a happy marriage and equally happy parenthood.

The fact is that by far the greater number of men have abused themselves, or contracted sexual disease, at some time of their lives, whether in boyhood, youth or manhood. Yet most of these men have had more or less successful careers, and have very largely outgrown the results of their various indiscretions, simply because they have discontinued their evil practices. Time alone has helped them to recuperate. To such an extent is this true that some medical writers have been inclined to belittle the harmful effects of sexual abuses and excesses. Of course this is a mistake, for such habits are always weakening and destructive; but if it is true that time alone will often cure the resulting evils, you may be sure that a persistent course of proper treatment and training especially designed for virility building will be infinitely more effective.

The one paramount consideration in the attainment of virility is the building up of the vital and nervous forces of the body. The whole organism must be strengthened in every possible way, the blood purified and enriched, the vital organs toned up and the circulation made more active and vigorous. Every single infinitesimal cell in the body must be made to vibrate with health and vitality, and when this has been done it will not be long before you develop a normal and satisfactory degree of sexual vigor.

You cannot expect to gain in virility so long as you are a nervous wreck, or anything approaching it. You need strong nerves, muscles, and a reserve supply of nerve-force in order to build virility. Many maintain that the central nervous system is really the source of all human energy or power, every function of the body de-pending upon the supply of nerve-force from the brain and spinal cord. And inasmuch as sexual weakness means, or at least is associated with, more or less exhaustion of the spinal nerve-centers, it is of the utmost importance that the nervous system be built up and the highest possible degree of all-round vital vigor attained.

The very first essential for virility building is a favorable mental attitude. Everything really depends upon your determination and your persistence in following out the vitality-building regime which I would recommend; for if you lack this determination or persistence, you will gradually neglect your treatment and health program and so fail to secure results. Make up your mind that it will be an up-hill struggle, and then determine to stick to it until you win. Others have done it, and so can you. Stop worrying and do more working. And above all things cultivate the clean attitude of mind, keeping away from lascivious thoughts and from everything that will tend to stimulate sexual excitement. As I have already suggested, spend as much time as possible in the company of other clean-minded persons, and especially those of the other sex, but without personal familiarity.

With reference to the causes of his weakness, each one should make a study of himself. In most cases the cause is only too plain. It is to be found in some abuse of the generative system. In other cases some constitutional condition may be chiefly at fault, as when the quality of the blood is affected by digestive troubles, dissipation of any kind, nerve-strain or overwork. All these things should be considered, so that any debilitating influence may be avoided in future.

A strictly continent life for some time is imperative. One should enjoy complete sexual rest. If married, it would be well to occupy a separate bed. It is necessary to give the organs, muscles, tissues generally, and nerve-centers involved a full opportunity to recuperate, and this demands not merely temperance but complete abstinence for a time. Just how long this will take depends upon the degree of weakness in each victim. A few months may be sufficient to permit satisfactory recuperation, but a rest of two or three years may perhaps be necessary. Remember also, that after having once suffered any marked loss of virility, one must expect after recovery to exercise temperance in marital indulgences for the rest of one's life. One cannot afford to waste one's vitality and virility through any further excesses.

In reference to the advice to marry which is frequently offered by physicians for sexual weakness, I would repeat that this is usually the worst thing that one can do, and is particularly an injustice to the woman in view. It is offering "damaged goods," though in a different sense from that implied in the famous play of that name, and it often means the rapid loss and extinction of what little virility a man may have left. Build up before thinking of marriage. At the same time, I will admit that there are cases in which a normal married life will help to build virility, if one has not become too seriously debilitated—in a mild ease, in other words, as for instance when the chief difficulty lies in seminal losses or varicocele. But there should be the closest observance of the principles laid down in the earlier chapters of this book. Moderation is imperative.

Freedom from the influence of alcohol, tobacco, stimulating drinks and drugs of any kind, is indispensable to a high degree of virility, as you will already have realized from what I have said about them in previous chapters. Don't listen to the man who tells you that wine is a sexual stimulant. And shun also the physician who would prescribe for you strychnine or any other of the drug "aphrodisiacs" that are supposed to have a stimulating effect. Not only is over-stimulation of any kind exhausting, but these drugs have a directly destructive effect. They defeat their own purpose. Most writers tell the young man to shun the quack and apply to the family physician, but the reputable practitioner may do as much harm as the quack through drug treatment of this kind. On the other hand, however, he does not misrepresent his patient's condition and try to frighten him, as does the quack.

The medical quack is the most contemptible human parasite that walks the earth. Vampire that he is, he has neither mercy, decency nor honesty. He does not hesitate to rob his victims by any means within his power, and his greatest profit is gained by scaring young men into the belief that they have lost their manhood when they may in reality have only night losses or the slightest symptoms of varicocele, or even when they are entirely normal.

As for any "treatment" that one may receive from the quack, the victim will have reason to congratulate himself if it does not actually pro-duce the disorder which previously may have been only imaginary. The electric-belt fraud is now a thing of the past. Even. the most uneducated man on the street to-day knows that there is nothing in these worthless devices. It is sufficient for me to say here that they are not electric, for one thing, and that even if they were they would not produce the marvelous results claimed for them.

One of the first and most important of all means for acquiring virility is muscular exercise. You cannot expect to be a man in the fullest sense unless you are physically active and possess a normal and vigorous muscular development. Activity is the one great law of life, and it is only through the use of the muscular system that one can exercise and strengthen the vital and other organs. Stagnation means deterioration of every organ and tissue in the body. For building man-hood, therefore, it is absolutely essential that you should make yourself physically as perfect as possible. In fact, there is nothing in the world that can take the place of muscular exercise for your purpose. So important is this feature of the treatment that I am devoting a special chapter to the subject.

Another prime essential is a strengthening and nutritious diet. One cannot build up the body without suitable food. So many mistakes in diet are made at the average table that it is necessary to give special attention to the subject. On account of the importance of this factor in virility building I am devoting a special chapter to it also.

Fresh air and outdoor life are likewise of the greatest importance. Get the oxygen into your system. Let it give you the good red coloring of the blood that signifies health and manhood. You can tell the outdoor man from the indoor man by his very appearance. The one has a healthy coloring, and looks robust and vigorous. The other is sallow and lacks the clear, bright eye and springing step that goes with superabundant vitality. He may not have the color of death itself, but his pallor approaches it. One simply cannot be at one's best unless one spends a certain part of each day in the open air. It should be two or three hours at least, and preferably more. The ideal plan for one trying to build virility would be to live and work outdoors and even to sleep outdoors. If one cannot realize this ideal, one should approach it as closely as possible. If a man works all day, there is no reason why he cannot spend his evenings at least in long walks, or in some other open-air pastime. The bicycle and the automobile have done much for the cause of open-air life, and motoring of almost any kind may be recommended on that account. The only exception would be the motor-cycle, in the case of a person with a sensitive or inflamed prostate gland.

But if one cannot be outdoors all the time, one can at least have a supply of fresh air indoors if one will only open up the place and let it in. Bring the outdoors into the house with you by opening up the windows. Nearly every one be-comes accustomed in winter to rooms that are too much heated, and to air that is too dry for the good of the health. Warm air is enervating in itself, apart from the question of its impurity. Cool or cold air is energizing, invigorating. The body has the property of adjusting itself to variations of temperature, and if you keep your windows open you will soon get used to the cooler air and will enjoy a higher degree of virility both on account of the lower temperature and the better supply of oxygen. The tendency of civilization is to make man an indoor creature, and by too much confinement to destroy him. If he is not attacked by tuberculosis, at least his vitality is weakened and he offers less resistance to other disorders. We should make a lifelong fight against the devitalizing tendencies of indoor life, and by so doing we will not only prolong life but we will have more life and more virility while we live.

Many complicated systems of ventilation have been devised by the experts. Some of them work fairly well, and some of them less well. But after all there has not yet been discovered any system of ventilation that will do so much toward giving you fresh air in your rooms as the simple plan of opening the windows and letting it come in. There's genuine ventilation for you.

The value of measures for stimulating and invigorating the spine and central nervous system cannot be overestimated in connection with the building of vigorous manhood. While the central nervous system is the source of the energy with which all of the functions of the body are carried on, the relation of the generative system to the brain and nervous system is particularly intimate, as even the most uneducated person may realize from his own experiences. We all know the direct and immediate effect upon the nervous system of any abuse of the generative organs. I have already called attention to the mental and nervous symptoms arising from this cause. It is therefore important to build up the nerves and invigorate the spinal centers. Impotence, as I have pointed out, is in most cases chiefly a matter of the exhaustion or weakening of the spinal nerve-centers which control the generative organs. Appropriate spinal treatment, accordingly, together with rest for a time from any further drains upon the nervous forces, will usually be very effective.

Exercises for the back and spine, such as I shall refer to in the following chapter on exercise, are without doubt the most effective and valuable means of invigorating the spinal nerve-centers.

All the muscles, ligaments and adjacent parts are strengthened by them, and the cartilages sup-porting the spinal vertebrae are so strengthened and improved as to keep the vertebrae in alignment and prevent any compression of the spinal cord. Also, the circulation throughout the en-tire region of the spine is improved. The use of carefully devised movements and treatments for the spine in my system of Mechanical Physcultopathy (described and illustrated in Volume III of "Macfadden's Encyclopedia of Physical Culture") may be recommended in stubborn examples. Osteopathy would also be of value for many sufferers. But for the average, good results may be secured by alternate hot and cold spinal packs, and sometimes by mechanical vibration.

Hot spinal packs alone will be very effective, especially applied to the small of the back and lower part of the spine. If one desires to invigorate the entire system at the same time one may use a towel for the purpose, folding it lengthwise, so that it may cover the entire length of the spine from the back of the neck down. It should be wrung out of water just as hot as can be borne, and changed or renewed every half minute, the treatment being continued for a few minutes. The most convenient plan is to lie on the stomach when the applications are being made. When hot water is not available, cold spinal packs will be of some value, being invigorating, but not so stimulating and effective as the hot packs.

I suggest the use of mechanical vibration for what it may be worth. I do not promise results from it, but will say that it is often decidedly valuable as a means of massaging tissues that cannot otherwise be reached, and as a means of accelerating the circulation. For this particular purpose it should be applied to the spine in the region of the small of the back, upward and downward for a few inches. Vibration should not be applied directly to the sexual organs.

Suitable bathing habits are also remarkably effective in building manhood. All baths that are beneficial to the health in a general way will be useful for this purpose, as they will react favor-ably on one's sexual condition. The one or two warm baths with soap usually taken each week for purposes of cleanliness are helpful because healthful. For the same reason, any form of cold bathing that tends to build up the general vigor of the body and tone up the circulatory system will be helpful. Swimming is of exceptional value, but one should not stay in the water too long. It is true that one who is fairly well covered with fatty tissue can stay in water of ordinary temperature perhaps for hours at a time, without inconvenience, but the man who has no such protection—that is to say, the man who is lean and drawn—will lose too much vitality if he stays in cold water for a prolonged period.

Aside from bathing in general, however, there are special forms of bathing which have an extraordinary effect in most cases of sexual weakness. The most important of these is the cold sitz-bath, in which one sits down in eight or ten inches of water in such a way as to immerse only the hips and pelvic region. This bath can be taken in any ordinary bathtub or wash-tub, by keeping the feet up and out of the water, although special tubs are made for the purpose.

The cold sitz-bath has a most remarkable tonic effect upon the whole system as well as upon the parts locally affected. This is probably due in part to the important sympathetic nerve plexus in the abdomen. The generative organs are particularly invigorated by this treatment; all of the tissues are toned up, the circulation is improved and one acquires a sense of life and strength throughout the entire region. The cold sitzbath is usually very effective in a case of piles, and usually has a favorable effect also in constipation. It is practically all that is needed in most cases of varicocele.

I have already referred to the sitz-bath in some of the preceding chapters. In many cases of complete impotence or atrophy of the testicles, a more stimulating treatment is desired in the form of alternate hot and cold sitz-baths. In that event, if one has only one tub, local sponging with hot and cold water alternately, concluding with a cold sitz-bath, might answer the purpose. In case of an inflamed prostate gland, or extreme irritability of the urethra and other parts, a hot sitz-bath will be best. It is also useful in occasional instances of seminal losses, followed by a quick cold sponging of the genitals. Taking it all around, the sitz-bath is the most reliable and satisfactory hydropathic treatment for building virility. One may remain in it anywhere from one to five minutes, according to the temperature of the water, and it should follow one's exercises. The best plan is to take the sitz-bath in the morning, though this is not a rigid rule. As a general thing the hot sitz-bath, if one uses it, is best taken in the evening.

Another very satisfactory form of local treatment is the application of water by means of a small hand-spray, consisting of a small shower attachment on the end of a rubber tube, which may be attached to the bath-tub faucet. This is an extremely handy arrangement for any cold-water treatment, and in cases of impotence or prematurity good results may often be secured by directing the stream of cold water against the perineum, just back of the scrotum, thus affecting the prostate and posterior urethra. By a careful adjustment of the running water one may be able to use this hand-spray for alternate hot and cold treatment. In a case of varicocele or impotence a small piece of ice, held for a few moments at a time against the perineum, and also moved around over the scrotum, would be of use. One should not prolong this ice treatment, and it will be less uncomfortable if the ice is wrapped in a small piece of cloth, perhaps a handkerchief.

Air baths are very important in virility building. They tone up the nervous system in a prising manner and often help greatly in curing sleeplessness. In our customary clothing we usually smother the skin, not only through the over heating of the body, but by excluding it from contact with the air. The skin actually breathes in a manner, through its function of eliminating impurities. This duty is carried on in the most satisfactory manner only under natural conditions, or in other words, when the skin is exposed to the air. Daily air baths, therefore, are of great value. The lower part of the trunk in particular should be exposed to the air as much as possible, and tight clothing in this region is undoubtedly detrimental to a serious degree. Clothing should not be tight about the crotch, abdomen and hips. The ideal costume is the Scotch kilt, for this permits of a circulation of air in this region. But however you may dress, you should try to take air baths as often as possible. When alone in your own room, for instance, for some time before going to bed, it is always possible to take an air bath of considerable duration. You can do it when writing letters, studying, or working at any-thing. It is an important feature of the treatment.

Dry rubbing, or what I should call a friction bath, is a very valuable treatment for toning up the nerves and health. Rub the surface of the entire body vigorously with a rough Turkish towel, or with a pair of soft brushes, until the skin takes on a pink glow. The rubbing will give you a little more exercise, and the effect on the skin is pronounced. In many cases it will over-come the tendency to pimples, and it always makes the skin soft and smooth. The friction not only stimulates the eliminative function of the skin, but it also tones up or wakes up the nervous system, because of the myriads of tiny nerve-endings located in the cuticle. One should spend about five minutes on this friction bath, going over the entire surface of the body.

Sun baths are also invaluable as a stimulating factor in sexual debility. All the energy found in the various forms of life on the earth comes from the sun. It is the great energizing principle. The sun's rays upon the body directly in-crease metabolism or cell-activity. They stimulate the nervous forces. In fact, direct sunshine is so powerful a stimulant that it is easy to get too much of it. An excess of the vertical rays of the sun has a destructive effect, and will actually kill a white man in the tropics. Therefore some care may be necessary in the beginning. A fair skinned person does not need so much exposure to the sun's rays as one of dark complexion, and cannot stand so much. But the sunshine is such an effective vitalizing agency that one should not fail to take advantage of the free treatment thus available. You can take your sun bath and air bath together if you have a window through which the sunshine comes in. Particularly is it a good plan to expose the sexual organs directly to the rays of the sun for at least a short time each day. In a case of impotence, weakness or atrophy of the organs I believe this treatment will do much toward awakening new life and activity of the glands. In sterility of the functional kind, due to a devitalized condition, the sun bath should be very effective.

Men who work may not be able to take advantage of the sun's rays at all times of the year, but usually they can contrive to do so on Sun-days. In any event one's clothing may be adapted to one's requirements in this respect. Black is very unsuitable. By wearing a light gray or tan, of porous character, it may be possible to let a good deal of the sunshine reach the skin through the clothing. Especially in summer, one can practically take a sun bath through one's clothing if one is dressed properly. The light silk and linen suits recently much worn by men in summer are highly to be recommended. Furthermore, by wearing clothing of loose, open weave at all times of the year, the skin may be more or less ventilated even when one has one's clothing on. Both underwear and external garments should have this porous, loosely woven character. Such goods are also much warmer than closer weaves. Avoid the tightly woven goods. A sweater is usually better than an overcoat.

The-same considerations apply to bed covering. While one naturally desires to be comfortably warm in bed, one should not be overheated. Cotton comforters tend to become matted and are heavy in proportion to warmth. Blankets have the porous, loosely-woven character desirable for body coverings, and are to be preferred. The best plan of all, however, is to enjoy an air-bath in bed throughout the night, by sleeping without a night shirt, and by using a simple device to lift the coverings up from the body in the center of the bed. This can be accomplished by pinning a very large safety-pin, or horse-blanket safety-pin, through the middle of the bed coverings, and then running through this a string which is tied at each end to the top of the foot and the top of the head of the bedstead. In this way the bed coverings will be made to take somewhat the form of a low tent, with an air chamber underneath in which one can sleep. Such a nightly air bath will help you greatly, if you can keep warm, which, of course, is essential. If you feel the need of a special covering for arms and shoulders, you might cut off a night shirt at about the waist line or around the chest, thus leaving the rest of the body exposed to the air. I have given more details of this device, together with an illustration, in my book, "Vitality Supreme," but I think I have made the idea clear enough here.

All other influences that bear upon health and vitality building must be kept in mind in connection with the building of manhood and the cure of sexual disorders. One of the most essential of these is sleep. Nothing will avail unless you get sufficient sleep to keep up your vitality and energy. Going to bed late is one of the greatest American vices. Thousands who would not think of drinking or dissipating in any other way will dissipate in this manner. Don't lose sleep even to read poetry, philosophy or religious books. It is dissipation. Get to bed. And sleep in the fresh air. If you can possibly arrange it, sleep outdoors. Fix up a couch on the roof, on the balcony, or anywhere you can, so long as it is out of the house. Try it. Do it not only for the benefit, but for the pleasure of it. You will enjoy it as you never enjoyed sleep be-fore, because you will sleep as you never did be-fore. And it will give you vitality.

Wholesome recreations that do not overtax the nerve forces, and which do not devitalize because they are too exciting, are advisable. Avoid excitement of any kind, but find as much happiness as you can in your pleasures and in your work. Cultivate the laugh cure. Practice singing at every opportunity. Find congenial friends. If possible find outdoor work, and avoid exhausting your strength through overwork of any kind. If you do physical work you need have little fear. But if you do mental work, with the expenditure of much nervous energy, see that you balance it off by being outdoors all the time when not at work, and by sleeping outdoors. In short, do everything that tends to build up general bodily vigor and strong nerves.

Remember you cannot expect to get results by following a part of this advice and ignoring the rest. Don't think that you will improve if you simply take cold sitz-baths and neglect the rest of the treatment. All of these measures, as far as they are, required for your individual needs, should be closely and persistently followed out. Everything I have mentioned is important, and most of all exercise, which I will take up in the next chapter. If you make up your mind to make a man of yourself, and stick to it like a man, I can promise that unless your case is extraordinary you will succeed in building up a degree of energy and manhood of which you will never need to be ashamed, and of which you may even have good reason to be proud.

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