Masturbators must take heed of these warnings from an 1890 Medical Journal:
There are various names given to the unnatural and degrading vice of producing venereal excitement by the hand, or other means, generally resulting in a discharge of semen in the male and a corresponding emission in the female. Unfortunately, it is a vice by no means uncommon among the youth of both sexes, and it frequently continued into the riper years.
The following are some of the symptoms of those who are addicted to the habit: Inclination to shun company or society; frequently being missed from the company of the family, or others with whom he or she is associated; becoming timid and bashful, and shunning the society of the opposite sex; the face is apt to be pale and often a bluish or purplish streak under the eyes, while the eyes themselves look dull and languid and the edges of the eyelids often become red and sore; the person can not look anyone steadily in the face, but will drop the eyes or turn away from your gaze as if guilty of something mean.
The health soon becomes noticeably impaired, there will be general debility, a slowness of growth, weakness in the lower limbs, nervousness and unsteadiness of the hands, loss of memory, forgetfulness and inability to study or learn, restless disposition, weak eyes and loss of sight, headache and inability to sleep, or wakefulness. Next come sore eyes, blindness, stupidity, consumption, spinal affection, emaciation, involuntary seminal emissions, loss of all energy or spirit, insanity and idiocy–the hopeless ruin of both body and mind. These latter results do not always follow. Yet they or some of these do occur as a direct consequence of this pernicious habit.
The subject is an important one. Few, perhaps, ever think, or ever know, how many of the unfortunate inmates of our lunatic asylums have been sent there by this dreadful vice. Were the whole truth upon this subject known, it would alarm parents, as well as the guilt victims of this vice, more even than the dread of cholera or small-pox.
Preventive Measures–When the parents are satisfied that their child is indulging in this habit, take immediate measures to break it up. It is a delicate matter for parents, especially for a father, to speak to his son about. It is different with the mother; she can more readily speak to a daughter upon subjects of that nature, and if guilty, portray to her the danger, the evil consequences and ruin which must result if the habit is not at once and forever abandoned. If persuasion and instruction will not do, other measures, such as will prove efficient, must be resorted to.
In case of a son, perhaps the better way will be for the services of the family physician to be engaged. He can portray to the misguided young man the horrors and evils of the habit in their hearing, and his caution and advice will have weight.
How to Detect and Prevent Secret Vice–Examination of the linen is usually conclusive evidence in the case of boys; the genital organs, too, receive an undue share of attention. The patient should be constantly watched during the day until he falls asleep at night, and be required to arise directly he wakes in the morning. In confirmed cases the night-dress should be so arranged that the hands cannot touch the genital organs.
Under no circumstances should nurses be permitted unnecessarily to handle or expose the genital organs of children, and children should be taught at the very earliest period that it is immodest and even wrong, to handle the, parts. When at school, as well as at home, every boy should have a separate bed. The neglect of this important advice is a frequent cause of bad habits being taught and practiced. In addition to a separate bed, he should be able to dress and undress apart from the observation of others. The necessary privacy may be secured by partitions placed between the beds, but not extending up to the ceiling, so as to interfere as little as possible with the ventilation. One of the few articles necessary in the sleeping room is a sponge bath. This, with a good-sized of honeycomb sponge, and a large towel or sheet, complete the outfit. The regular daily use of the sponge bath conduces greatly to the cure or prevention of self-abuse. The too free use of meat, highly-seasoned dishes, coffee, wine, late suppers, etc., strongly tend to excite animal propensities, which directly predispose to vice.