Sex Changes In Mature Male And Female
( Originally Published 1940 )
When at puberty the primary energy of childhood has died down and the growth of all the organs of the body is almost complete, both sexes to their great astonishment feel a new impulse. This is a recurrence of growth-energy emanating from the two small reproductive masses, which after their rapid development during the embryonic period, remain quiescent, as if they were destined to be rudimentary organs of no value. Now, however, there occurs suddenly a new stimulus to tissue-formation, and this setting free of unicellular organisms is the first beginning of the real sexual life, for hitherto the sexual life had only been of an infantile type.
During this period new life animates the testes and the ovaries. In the testes marked proliferation of the interstitial tissue occurs, whereby the organochemical substances referred to in the last chapter are elaborated, and from now onwards countless sperm-cells are formed and voided in large numbers at short intervals. In the ovaries, too, organochemical substances but of different kind are formed and from now onward semi-fluid egg-cells are matured and cast off though at much longer intervals. We have seen how the egg-cells have to force a laborious passage through the ovarian tissue. But how is the new cell-type formed in the male?
Now let us take the approach of sexual maturity. Caused by the specific action of the organochemical substances referred to in the preceding chapter, and accompanied by great local venous congestion, large numbers of newly formed sperm-cells make their appearance, and there occurs a profound local effect, and sometimes a profound general effect, psychical and physical, as well. As soon as conditions are favourable, the sperm-cells approach the egg-cells which are rich in food and towards which they are chemotactically attracted. By themselves they are incapable of separate existence as unicellular organisms. The next consequence comprises two categories of phenomena, increased tissue-formation and in-creased tissue-destruction.
All those influences which are apt to stimulate the sexual desire too much and which should, therefore, be avoided by persons who are easily aroused sexually, as we shall discuss more fully later on (chapter 32), are, curiously enough, exactly those which should be avoided in inflammations and conditions of pyrexia. Contraindicated in both cases are: any local mechanical pressure, increase in blood pressure, the consumption of spicy food and other stimulants, especially alcohol, all superfluous nourishment, especially of an albuminous nature, local heat, local massage, psychic exaltation. Conversely, those drugs which inhibit sexual excitation, as quinine, and salicylic-acid-preparations, are the most useful antipyretics.
Fever and heat are originally devices of nature which increase the energy of metabolism and so remove noxious influence. It is a pity that this remedy occasionally acts with too great a violence. Similarly, sexual life is an increase in energy, without which cessation and decay (vide chapter 66) would set in after the body has almost reached the end of development. It is most unfortunate that it so often appears with such. unbridled violence. In the same way as relief is always experienced after the voiding of pus, so sexual desire is relieved every time the reproductive cells are east forth, A certain analogy between the two cannot be denied.
We shall not, however, confine our parallel to the pathological point of view. Biologically considered, any kind of tissue-formation, even of a pathological nature, is the expression of certain growth-energy, which must be present to produce the tissue-formation at all. If we consider the various types of tissue-formation as they appear at various periods of life, we shall find an underlying definite scheme, since the diverse tissue-formations are an expression of a multifarious growth-energy pertaining to different periods of our life.
In youth the energy of growth is still at its height, and during this period it expresses itself in normal vegetative growth. As soon as this energy of growth becomes exhausted, it can manifest itself only in a different manner, namely, in the formation of unicellular sexual organisms. When with advancing age this form of energy, too, ceases, there occurs a typical, abnormal pathological tissue-formation only here and there, in the different body tissues. These are often without significance, and may pass unnoticed, though sometimes they are malignant and fatal.
Thus it is evident that the sexual cell-formation of sperm-cells and egg-cells occupies a position intermediate between normal growth which governs everything in childhood, and pathological tissue-formations as, they appear in age. This defines the peculiar position of the sexual life in contrast to our normal vegetative existence, and throws a different light (vide chapter 40) on the history of sexual evolution.
When the reproductive cells have once become separated from the parent cells they must be discharged from the body. Even as regards this discharge, the reproductive cells occupy a position intermediate between increase of growth on the one hand and the tumours of age on the other.
In normal growth, only the superficial layer of cells of the epidermis or mucous membrane is spontaneously cast off, when worn out and degenerated. In more deeply situated tissues only the waste products are got rid of through the lymphatics or sometimes, even through special glandular ducts. All these processes occur naturally; external influences such as massage, etc., may help but are by no means indispensable.
In pathological tissue-formations, however, the surgeon's knife is nearly always required to remove the tumour.
In sexual cell-formation the casting-off is not so easy as in ordinary growth, but, normally, not as difficult as in pathological tissue-formations. We shall discuss this as it occurs in the two sexes in a little more detail.
At first, in both sexes, there is no need for external aid. Later on, however, the act of copulation is normally required for the emptying of the seminal vesicles in man' and for the proper con-traction of the uterus in woman. For the act of copulation, a partner is, however, necessary. We have here the curious phenomenon that two individuals are required for the natural performance of a physiological need. It is fortunate that, for other physiological functions, such as digestion and respiration, a partner is not required.
As in the removal of a pathological growth, an operation is necessary, so in this case, the woman will in time, after fertilisation has taken place, require the services of an accoucheur. At least his advice and assistance are often required during parturition and only too frequently operative interference is unavoidable.
Though our unnatural and far too sedentary mode of life, and our often very unsuitable clothing, may be in part responsible for the complication of parturition, in the history of human progress, we should not forget that even in the most primitive races, and in higher animals, birth is far from being a simple process. In the most normal cases the separation of the newly born from the umbilical cord is a sanguinary operation, which is unavoidable even in wild animals, who tear or bite it through.
It is certainly a great advance for us men, that our new found cells are always of a microscopic size and that they have a point of exit ready at hand, while in woman the final process of separation is often very difficult. If in their marital relationship the two partners are grateful to each other for their mutual aid, the mother is possibly far more grateful to the accoucheur when everything has gone off well. And the solemn kiss given to the accoucheur, which used to be customary in high society, was no less heartfelt expression of gratitude and no less sacred than the parting kiss after marital intercourse.