The brutal anti-masturbation gadgets of the Victorian period

The brutal anti-masturbation devices of the Victorian era


In case you had been a person dwelling within the Victorian-era and also you occurred to be experiencing nervousness, irritability or a lack of confidence, a go to to the physician would possibly result in a sequence of embarrassing questions on your love life.

An trustworthy and/or courageous man would possibly confess to dabbling within the occasional sport of self-love. This confession would undoubtedly unleash a analysis of “spermatorrhoea” — a so-called “sickness” that sparked an inflow of anti-masturbation gadgets that regarded precisely like penis torture chambers.

Subsequent, your physician would possibly insist you buy an anti-masturbation gadget corresponding to “jugum penis”, which was a jagged metallic ring that connected to the bottom of the penis with a screw. Its sole objective was to cease an undesirable erection as a result of it inflicted a lot ache on the poor man that self-love was out of the query.

Producers rushed to assemble horrific gadgets as docs tried to treatment their sufferers of what was often known as the male model of feminine “hysteria”. Why all of the fuss? Whereas it is broadly agreed in the present day that masturbation would not have any harmful unwanted side effects, within the 19th century it was seen as a severe menace to psychological and bodily well being.

Ladies had been additionally impacted by gadgets designed particularly for them; some had been prescribed material and leather-based chastity belts — however these had been far much less brutal than the gadgets made for males.

Many physicians believed masturbation led to psychological sickness, whereas others went so far as saying it might kill you.

Invented 139 years in the past this month, the jugum penis was designed to cease “night-time emissions” (moist desires) with the concept that in case you bought an erection in your sleep, the gadget would trigger you a lot ache it could wake you up.

Let’s check out the most typical anti-masturbation gadgets and uncover whether or not spermatorrhoea truly existed or it was a method to disgrace males who indulged within the “solitary vice”.


Within the eyes of the Victorian-era docs, there was solely method to cease the unfold of “spermatorrhoea”: males wanted to cease masturbating. It was as easy and as sophisticated as that.

Masturbation for males has at all times had a tough historical past, dogged by disgrace and embarrassment. “Self-love” was seen as an final evil, however past the moralistic arguments, many physicians thought each orgasm drained a person’s power.

Attention-grabbing be aware: We nonetheless see this in the present day after we examine coaches insisting athletes abstain from intercourse to protect their power.

From metallic rings mounted to the bottom of the penis to anti-masturbation corsets, males had been shamed into not touching themselves.

Married males had been warned by docs to restrict the quantity of intercourse they had been having, and single males had been urged to preserve their “essence” by avoiding intercourse altogether, notably masturbation.

Historian Dr John Woolf, a Victorian specialist and creator of The Wonders, instructed masturbation was an enormous concern.

“It grew to become more and more mainstream to consider that masturbation — aka the ‘solitary vice’— might result in psychological and bodily issues, together with madness. This was a medical and an ethical concern, which had roots within the 18th century following the publication of two tracts: ‘Omania or the Heinous Sin of Self-Air pollution and Onanism’ by French doctor Samuel Tissot,” Dr Woolf mentioned.

“The worry of masturbation seeped into medical textbooks, marriage guides and recommendation on morals and manners … however this didn’t imply that individuals averted that secret vice. I’ve come throughout Victorian porn that has made me blush, and I come from the era who reached sexual maturity alongside web pornography!”

By the mid-19th century, medical professionals put theories out into the sphere that might be extremely contested in the present day.

“In treating on this extremely necessary topic, it’s our chief intention to point out, by incontrovertible proofs, the manifold evils society endure by licentiousness and unrestrained indulgence of the passions. Sages and ethical writers of all ages, have described in glowing phrases the direful and terrible results of Masturbation — a ardour that captivates the creativeness of its sufferer imperceptibly, step-by-step, until each ethical feeling is obliterated, and all of the bodily powers destroyed. You who’re hooked on this solitary vice, ‘lay not the flattering unction to your souls,’ that you’re not conscious of the enormity of the act,” wrote the creator of 1 medical work.


Victorian doctor Albert Haye, who wrote The Science of Life, described spermatorrhoea as “essentially the most dire, excruciating and lethal maladies to which the human body is topic”.

Based on Dr Woolf, the phrase spermatorrhoea was initially coined by French doctor Claude-Francoise Lallemard to explain involuntary seminal loss, normally by way of “nocturnal emissions” (once more, moist desires!) It was mainly the phrase for the male model of feminine “hysteria”.

“Spermatorrhoea was believed to be a severe medical situation inflicting blushing, crying, breathlessness, melancholy and sensitivity. Masturbation was the first trigger, and impotence was the consequence. Spermatorrhoea was a preferred analysis between 1830s and 1860s however then grew to become retro and uncommon,” Dr Woolf mentioned.

Ejaculation was seen as a sexual dysfunction, and since semen was seen as a person’s “important warmth”, spermatorrhoea was believed to result in horrifying bodily results.

The signs, based on doctor John Skelton, included lack of one’s confidence, turning into fretful, lack of dignity, being usually unpleasant and considerably of a hypochondriac.

Most physicians agreed the first reason for spermatorrhoea was the vice of masturbation. (Others suspected it was brought on by studying an excessive amount of literature and sleeping on gentle feather beds).

The principle treatment for spermatorrhoea was abstinence, and top-of-the-line methods to realize that was by sporting an anti-masturbation gadget. And a few had been actually barbaric.


Created in 1876, this was a tool that connected to the penis by way of a pouch that was then strapped to your leg. There have been upgrades of the truss that included a metal spiky lining, assured to cease any erection. There have been additionally variations that included a mini-cage that did not do a lot other than stopping a hand from having any contact with the penis.

Devices prescribed for treatment of masturbation. Photo / Supplied
Gadgets prescribed for remedy of masturbation. Picture / Provided


This ring was invented to inflict as a lot ache as attainable as quickly as a person will get an erection. It was much like the jugum penis however mentioned to be much more painful because of the 4 metal spikes.

Four-pointed urethral ring for the treatment of masturbation. Photo / Supplied
4-pointed urethral ring for the remedy of masturbation. Picture / Provided


One other method to cease these annoying “night-time emissions” and “self-abuse” was the Bowen gadget, which consisted of a metallic penis cap connected to small cables to be clamped onto pubic hair. If the person had an erection, the gadget would pull on the pubic hair, inflicting him ache.

The Bowen gadget was patented in 1889, and it was described as this: “When a discharge is more likely to happen, the gadget is elevated with the organ, and the connections are drawn sufficiently taut as to tug the hair, the impact of which is to awaken the sleeper, who’s thereby enabled to stop or verify the discharge.”


Also called a “pollutions ring”, the jugum penis featured a metal clip with serrated tooth that was connected to the bottom of the penis. If a person had an erection whereas sporting the jugum penis, he could be in a world of ache.

Jugum penis, steel, nickel plated, 1880-1920. Photo / Supplied
Jugum penis, metal, nickel plated, 1880-1920. Picture / Provided


In 1908, a girl invented an anti-masturbation gadget for males. Ellen E. Perkins created a material physique swimsuit with metallic plates. When requested why she created her gadget she defined,” It’s a deplorable however well-known proven fact that probably the most widespread causes of madness, imbecility and feeble-mindedness, particularly in youth, is because of masturbation or self-abuse.”

This terrifying diagram shows how men were expected to wear their 'sexual armour'. Photo / Supplied
This terrifying diagram exhibits how males had been anticipated to put on their ‘sexual armour’. Picture / Provided


Dr Woolf tells us the story of a person named George Drysdale (1824-1904) who captures the true worry younger males felt about masturbation.

“George Drysdale was the fourth son of the town treasurer and Tory chief on Edinburgh council, Sir William Drysdale. George’s mom, Girl Drysdale, moved in literary and scientific circles. In round 1835, George found masturbation — often known as his ‘secret disgrace’ — and on the age of 15 was indulging within the behavior 2-Three instances a day for a few yr. He grew to become more and more satisfied that his wanking would result in a psychological and bodily breakdown. When he went to Glasgow College in 1841, he started to have moist desires (or nocturnal emissions), and he grew to become terrified that he was heading in direction of insanity,” Dr Woolf mentioned.

“In 1843 he left college and a yr later he faked his personal loss of life! He wanted to get away from his disgrace and his household. Whereas dwelling secretly in Hungary, he underwent a sequence of operations to cauterise his penis: to deaden the nerve endings by inserting up his penis a skinny metallic rod coated in a caustic substance. He submitted himself to this process seven or eight instances between 1844-1846. He ultimately got here out of hiding, revealing he had by no means actually died, however his drawback was nonetheless not cured. He discovered the very best answer to masturbation was sleeping with prostitutes.”

“Now, George’s masturbation had induced him appreciable torment and ache, however he in the end turned this detrimental right into a optimistic when he started engaged on a e-book — Bodily, Sexual and Pure Faith (1854) — which linked free thought and free love. George had discovered his personal private sexual liberation and printed his ideas; he advocated contraception and taught that sexual lust was pure,” Dr Woolf mentioned.

There aren’t any information on what number of males had been subjected to the disgrace and torture of the anti-masturbation gadgets. It wasn’t till the top of the 19th century when Dr James Paget questioned the very existence of spermatorrhoea that the phrase started to vanish from prominence, and males had been most gratefully knowledgeable that masturbating was not dangerous for one’s bodily and psychological well being in any case.


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