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Erectile Dysfunction in History

The word impotence is Erectile dysfunction is by no means a modern phenomenon. Man's preoccupation with potency, or the lack thereof, has been present throughout the ages.
The following article traces some interesting remedies and opinions relating to impotence throughout different eras and cultureserived from the Latin word impotencia, which literally translated means lack of power. The oldest reference to impotence was made in the Samhita of Sushruta, around the eighth century BC in India.

An attempt was made to describe the causes of the condition, suggesting at least four, i.e. voluntary, congenital, praecox and diseases of the genital organs. In fact, the ancient Hindus believed that impotence could also be of mental origin, from intercourse with a distasteful woman. Many interesting remedies were recommended within the Samhita, including eating the testes of a goat, either by boiling the testes in milk and adding sesame seeds and lard of a porpoise, or by mixing the testes with salt, powdered pepper fish and clarified butter.

In Ancient Egypt, impotence was considered to be of two types: a natural cause where a 'man is incapable of accomplishing the sex act' and to have a supernatural element such that evil charms and spells could cause impotence. The Egyptian Papyrus Ebers, a medical Egyptian document dated 1600 BC, lists 811 prescriptions for various ailments, including impotence.

In that, baby crocodiles' hearts were mixed with wood oil to the appropriate consistency, and best erectile dysfunction medication this then be smeared into the husband's penis to restore his potency . Another remedy consisted of an oral combination of 37 substances. Only some of these have been identifiable: carob, juniper, pine, salt, various oils and watermelon.

In Greek mythology impotence in adult life was caused by sexual anxiety in childhood. In one example, King Phylacus of Phylace asked his physician, Melampus, to cure his son, Iphiclus, of impotence. Melampus established that Iphiclus had seen his father come towards him with a blood-stained gelding knife when he was a child, best erectile dysfunction medication and was terrified that his father was going to castrate him.

This fear as a child manifested as impotence in adulthood. Melampus agreed to cure Iphiclus in return for some cattle, and told the King to scrape off the rust from the knife, which was buried in a tree, and put it into a cup of wine. When Iphiclus drank this wine, he was cured of his impotence.

Impotence is even mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible, where a cure is suggested for King David's impotence:

'Now King David was old and stricken in years; and they covered him with clothes, but he got no heat. Wherefore his servants said unto him, Let there be sought for my lord the king a young virgin: and let her stand before the king, and let her cherish him, and let her lie in thy bosom, that my lord the king may get heat' (First Book of Kings 1:1).

By the Middle Ages, and for many years thereafter, impotence was believed to be caused by witches. Many believed that tying a magic knot into a ring or a key using cord or a strip of leather, and then hiding it, caused impotence of the groom at a wedding. This was known as the 'magic ligature'.

The impotence would last until the knot was found and undone by the person who cast the spell. A countermeasure against the ligature involved the groom urinating through the wedding ring the night before the wedding .

From the 13th to the end of the 17th century, particularly among the upper classes, impotence was the only grounds for divorce. Indeed, in canonical (ecclesiastical) law, it was considered a deadly sin for an impotent man to marry, although there was no legal bar for him to marry.

Speculation about the causes of impotence continued throughout the centuries, with the ultimate focus on divine providence rather than physiology. This continued until the 19th century, when authorities promoted a new theory, claiming that impotence was a male disorder caused by insufficient self-control and sexual misconduct.

At this time, the high incidence of impotence among Victorian men was attributed to the voluntary loss of semen through masturbation and involuntary loss, termed spermatorrhoea. Treatments included quinine, opium and digitalis, and sponging with cold salt water at 5 o'clock in the morning.
For more difficult cases, physicians resorted to scarification of the perineum, best erectile dysfunction medication followed by suction cups that drew out several ounces of blood, and the passage of a bougie smeared with a mercurial ointment upon the mucous membrane of the urethra. This was left for 510 min in the belief that the pressure would reduce the congestion in the vessels of the urethra.

These days treatment is a lot simpler, less painful and has less social stigma attached. Never the less erectile dysfunction remains a serious and debilitating condition for any man to suffer, a premise which has been recognised throughout the ages.
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