Oh, how times change!

We know a lot about men’s health issues now. Our understanding of its causes and treatments has developed a great deal, even in the last decade or two.

But these safe, effective methods haven’t always been the norm. Nope. If you entered a doctor’s office with ED a few centuries ago, things could get weird.

How weird? Keep reading to find out more about the history of erectile dysfunction treatment.

How About Some Alligators & Crocodiles?

Many doctors in the ancient world were right to believe that there were multiple causes for ED, but some of the causes they focused on were more than a little questionable… and the treatments they prescribed weren’t much better.

Ancient Egyptians thought ED could be the result of an evil curse. Their solution? According to one text, a mixture of baby crocodiles’ hearts and of wood oil rubbed on a man’s genitals. If you asked a doctor in India during the eighth century BCE about erectile dysfunction, you might be advised to eat the testes of a goat or to rub a mixture including alligator testes on your feet.

(If the animal testes thing strikes you as bizarre, buckle up: this “cure” gets even more attention later in history. More on that shortly.)

To their credit, much of the ancient world did consider psychological and physiological causes alongside supernatural explanations. For centuries, erectile dysfunction was treated as a health problem. Then medieval Europe happened.

The Middle Ages Get Witchy

This is where things get, well, medieval.

In the Middle Ages, men blamed performance issues on witchcraft (because of course they did). It was believed that a witch could tie a strip of leather into a magic knot and hide it to cause impotence in a groom.

The only way to undo the curse was to find the knot and make the witch undo it. Naturally, men tried to avoid the trouble with a preventative method: Urinating through the wedding ring the night before the wedding. Yeah. You might not want to try that one at home.

And We’re Back to the Animal Testes

The use of animal testes to treat impotence  reemerged in the late 1800s, thousands of years after the ancients put it to the test. In 1889, aging French doctor Charles Edouard Brown-Sequard began injecting himself and others with dog and guinea pig sperm for “rejuvenation.” The strange experiment quickly kicked off a strange period in the history of erectile dysfunction treatment, where animal genitals to treat male “vitality” became a full-blown fad.

Things went further in the late 1910s, when surgeons such as the infamous Serge Varonoff decided to graft animal testicles onto older men. Varonoff believed presenting the sex hormones of an animal into a mens’ body through transplant could improve sexual performance, along with memory and eyesight. It was a big seller…and it did not work at all.

The surgical trend went wild for a couple decades (Varonoff ended up opening a monkey farm to keep up with demand), then completely fizzled out for pretty obvious reasons. Not only did it not work, but by the 1930s testosterone became available in pill form. Men tended to prefer meds to having monkey genitals grafted into their bodies.

The History of Erectile Dysfunction Treatment: Then and Now

It’s incredible how far we have come in our understanding of erectile dysfunction. Not only are we aware of the diverse reasons for these issues, we know how they relate to the rest of the body and male health as a whole.

At FullMast, we don’t help our patients undo curses. We have no monkey farm in our office. All we offer are expert physicians who can help you understand what is going on with your body and find a treatment option that works for you.
Click here to schedule your consultation with the FullMast Clinic in Toronto or Vancouver, or call 1-844-500-1177 for more information.

Written by Shauna Vert