There were all sorts of reasons not to go to the doctor back in the old days, back when their bags were full of mercury vials and hacksaws. And when the often puritanical patients had problems "down there" they were probably even more hesitant.
Thankfully, the world of quack medicine has always been around to sell them do-it-yourself devices to cure everything from impotence to constipation. And as horrible as you think these devices were, trust us, they were worse.
Are you fascinated by the works of Nikola Tesla? Do you often find yourself wondering how you can cram one of Tesla's most famous inventions in your ass?
Violet Ray Generators were a hugely popular turn of the century device of medical quackery that claimed to be the one and only sci-fi-inspired contraption that could cure damn-near any aliment you threw at it. With the aid of a number of assorted tubes designed for various body parts one could potentially cure warts, toothaches, obesity, pimples, insomnia, jaundice, deafness, or dandruff, all by simply pulling out the recommended attachment from what is apparently Hellraiser's briefcase.
For the most part, the usage of a generator simply required the user to switch it on and awkwardly rub a purple-glowing glass tube all over a portion of the body while resisting the urge to pretend they were engaged in foreplay with an alien.
But when one came down with a case of constipation, enlargement of the prostate, or impotence there was no other choice but to pop one of those glass tubes in your asshole and hope to God you don't sneeze or cough. Oh, and if you miss the old-school medical techniques like this, you can still buy these antique devices on ebay.
In the pre-douche era, a time of great Victorian craftsmanship and artistry, one man sought out to take on the problem of feminine hygiene. This man, having never seen an actual vagina up close, invented Lawson's vaginal washer.
There's only one picture of the vaginal washer available. This is an egg beater. Same principles apply.
Seriously, everything that needs to be said about Victorian-era understanding of female genitalia is right there in this spinning brass machine with a cartoonish crank on the side. Oh, yes, those blades up there would whirl around when you cranked it. You know, to clean the vagina.
There is a nozzle on the back where you can attach something to shoot in water or a bottle of some chemical with a name like Dr. Hallsworth's Medicated Lady Parts Solvent. The line starts over here, ladies!
Victorian era folks tended to believe that masturbation and nocturnal emissions could have devastating effects on the body, including blindness and retardation. Now, we understand that such old wives tales have a way of surviving, even among educated people. But what we don't understand is why they didn't demand more proof of the "masturbation will destroy you" thing before putting strapping anti-boner spikes to their dongs.
That's right, to combat the growing problem of unnecessary erections many inventors worked feverishly to devise contraptions that could effectively neutralize wang swelling. The Spermatorrhea Ring was comprised of a flexible metal band that comfortably accommodates an average sized penis.
Also there are spikes.
So when, say, a particularly foxy lady strolled past and the male mind rejoiced at the prospect of a chance sexual encounter, his penis would swell and draw ever closer to the spikes along the border of the ring. So it gave you enough time to run your hand through a meat grinder, or perhaps saw off a foot in an attempt to distract your brain with something -- anything -- that will make your boner just go away before it was impaled by spikes.
So with a product like Dr. Young's Rectal Dilators, we have to ask the question of whether there ever was an actual "Dr. Young" involved or if that's just part of the brand name, like Wendy's. Would people insert something like that into their ass unless a "doctor" told them to?
If there was a "Doctor Young," he apparently believed the body's nervous system to be an intricate interconnection of roads that allow organs to function in concert--and he was very right about that. What he wasn't right about was his apparent belief that all of these intricate interconnections of roads lead directly to your asshole, and that all illnesses could be solved by cramming different objects in there.
Use this on your butt. Or, alternately, to kill a werewolf.
That's if he believed it at all; our hypothetical Dr. Young may have just been doing it for the challenge. If you can convince somebody that inserting an ass-cork will make their bad-breath go away, you deserve every fucking dollar you get out of it.
Dr. Young also sold two, uh, custom sized dilators on very opposite ends of the "that's just gross" spectrum. The first is a 5 inch long, inch and a half thick behemoth, and the other is--and we apologize for letting you know of this-- "infant size."
The prostate gland warmer was nothing more than a 9 foot length of wiring that held a blue light bulb on one end, and a dildo-y tube on the other. We were rather discouraged to find out that the light bulb was not activated solely by the mighty electrical currents generated by a human rectum like a potato in a 4th grade science fair project. Instead, the gland warmer was, like most great devices that you cram in to an orifice, a plug-in.
Photo courtesy of The Museum of Quackery.
When plugged, the light bulb would glow and transfer its heat to the dildo-y end which itself was deeply entrenched within your end. The dildo-y portion would then yield its invigorating warmth to your glacial prostate, melting away its erection hindering properties and leaving behind the feeling of a gentle, loving hug on your inner-cock regions. Or, as the gland warmer's advertizing put it, "stimulate the abdominal brain."
"Abdominal brain." Now there's a phrase that should never have gone out of style.
All right, we promise, no more terrifying ass-instruments on this list.
Wait, one more. And it's called the goddamned RECTO ROTOR. Yeah, a name like that deserves the all caps up there.
Standing at six inches tall, it was claimed that the RECTO ROTOR would "reach your vital spot to such good purpose," which kind of insinuates that there are some other products out there that reach the "vital spot" with nothing but malevolence in its heart and world domination plans tucked under its arm.
Now picture this having a seizure in your ass.
Once the vital spot was touched, a simple flip of a switch would send the infernal machine in to a hellish convulsive fit as it vibrated its way deeper in to your ass like an oil prospector drilling for crude. But here's the thing: the Recto Rotor knows there's no crude in your ass. It's smarter than that. So what does it do? It supplies its own crude. With the turn of a dial the vent holes atop the rotor ooze a white-ish lotion all over your prostate like... uh... well... sorry, we just can't come up with a visual comparison for that.
The ad boasts that it's, "Large enough to be efficient. Small enough for anyone over 15 years old." Please Lord tell us that's just an eyeball estimate, and not the result of extensive product testing.
"Okay, so today we learned that 14 is too young, that's good to know.
Honestly, we're beginning to think being a turn of the century inventor meant one had latent homosexual desires that manifested themselves in the form of utterly useless butt-related thingamajigs. We're picturing lots of repressed Doc Brown-looking guys standing over our exposed buttocks, wielding two phallus shaped electrodes bridged by a crackling blue current of electricity.
Photo courtesy of The Museum of Quackery.
Well, the good news is this one doesn't go up your ass. The bad news, well, guess what that little loop thing hooks to?
We've mentioned this dong-shocking belt before, but the subject deserves further study.
First, it was intended to cure the completely made-up disease of Neurasthenia (defined by Wikipedia as the "stresses of urbanization and the pressures placed on the intellectual class by the increasingly competitive business environment" with symptoms including headache and impotence--hey, that's us!).
To active the belts' wondrous healing powers one first had to submerge it within an activating solution of sulfuric acid, vinegar and water. Then -- depending on the manufacturer -- the internal batteries were to be sprinkled with a "special powder" to bring the charge to life. The "special powder" was really just baking powder. So the whole thing probably ended with your penis coated with a rabid white froth.
"But why the penis?" you ask. Because the electric belt came with a penile strap that would transfer its healing electrical pulses straight in to your wang in an attempt to shock it out of its perpetual sexual slumber. Oh! And don't feel left out, ladies! There's a genital accessory for you too! Sadly, we couldn't find a clear enough picture of the cooter-shocker, but we can venture to guess that it looks a lot like a maxi pad topped with an array of frayed and rusted copper wiring.
In the same vein, the competing product the Manhood belt operated in a different manner. When worn, your natural body sweat activated the healing solution.
And by "healing solution" they meant red pepper.
The red pepper would wrap the penis with a warm, tingly sensation that would make its way up the torso and in to the vocal chords, producing a scream of astonishing anguish. That scream meant it was working.
Photo courtesy of The Museum of Quackery.
Insecure about your lack of enormous boobs, ladies? Husbands, want to modify your wife to suit your needs without expensive surgery? Well back in the day you could always put down some hard-earned money for this set of rubber tubes topped with pink, boob-ish looking suction cups, aka the Foot Operated Breast Enlarger Pump.
All the ladies had to do was slap the cups to their milk silos and repeatedly pump a foot pedal like a person just about to wrap their car around a tree. The suction would elongate the breasts thereby giving the illusion of growth when, in reality, the only physiological response was horrifying bruising that made it look like they had been in a brutal tit fight.
Brutal Tit Fight is also a good band name.
Yeah, those turn of the century folk sure were idiots, thinking they could dupe people in to buying their grossly illogical machines that promised wonder cures for all the genitals they were applied to.
Oh, wait. These were sold in 1976. They sold more than four million of them.
And check out Dr. Swaim's intriguing essays on health issues facing the human race, in Brown Fat: How Evolution Is Saving Us From Our Own Fat Asses and The 5 Most Likely Ways Humans Will Become Obsolete.
And visit Cracked.com's Top Picks so DOB can keep up his OBGYN practice.