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Bizarre Treatments for ED Before Viagra

Bizarre Treatments for ED Before Viagra

There have been some seriously strange treatments for erectile dysfunction (ED), including drinking urine, goat testicle transplants and radioactive rectal suppositories, among many others. But the strangest ED “cure” that has stood the test of time (without necessarily ever working) is electric shock treatment.

Galvanic baths and insertions

Men suffering from ED in the 1870s were, apparently, willing to try just about anything to restore their sexual abilities. Doctors offered several options: six sessions sitting in a bath with electrodes in the water; applying electric currents directly to the penis, scrotum and prostate; dunking genitals into an electric bath; or inserting a rod into the urethra for internal electric stimulation.

Electric belts

Not long after the galvanic baths came the mail-order apparatus: electric belts.

Advertisements for the electric belts didn’t focus on ED, but rather danced around the topic by claiming to cure backaches, kidney pains, sleeplessness and nervous exhaustion, with phrases like “impaired vitality” thrown in among the list.

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While some electrode-packed belts simply hung around the hips, others had a device that was placed around the genitals to “restore vital energy caused by sexual excesses.”

The belts didn’t work, but the advertising did, making the electric belt the most popular cure for ED between 1890 and 1920.

Mind, body, drugs

As the medical community matured to better understand the real causes of ED, the belts faded away.

There was a shift to look at erectile dysfunction through the lens of psychology, physiology and pharmacology.

There is a remnant of electroshock treatment being used for ED in modern day medicine. In 2011, a group of men in Israel went through shockwave therapy at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa. The procedure used low-intensity sound waves—like those used to break up kidney stones—which was reported to improve sexual function for the study’s participants.

Today, most men can get a prescription for Viagra to treat ED. With just one pill, men can experience enjoyable sex once again – no electricity needed.

About Lisa

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As a journalist Lisa enjoys writing about a variety of topics. Over the course of the last ten years she has been involved in television news as well as print and online publications. Medical news has always been a favorite for this native New Yorker because she gets to stay on top of the latest developments in a rapidly changing field. Lisa Furgison on Google+