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These radium suppositories promised to restore "sexual power" to men's weakened organs. "Also splendid for piles and rectals sores."

Radium Suppositories

After radium was discovered in 1898 by Paul and Marie Curie, radioactive substances were used as popular quack cures for all kinds of conditions. Before anyone knew about their toxic and carcinogenic properties, people drank radioactive water for its supposed curative effects, and, as you can see, also inserted radiation in the other end.

Electrical Therapy

This electrostimulation device from the 1880s may look innocuous enough - until you find out that the short cylinder goes up the rectum, while the length of the longer probe is inserted in the urethra. One has a positive charge, one has a negative charge, and together they pack a wallop intended to jolt the genitalia back into action.

Prostate Warmer

This gadget looks like the offspring of a cattle prod and an electrical lamp. One end of the electric prostate warmer was plugged into a wall socket, and the other end plugged into - well, you can probably figure out where that goes. When switched on, the light bulb would illuminate and the probe would "stimulate the abdominal brain" to restore sexual vigor.





Electric Belt

Electric belts were popular in the 19th century as a cure for many ailments. The Electric Belt and Suspensory for Men added a jolt to the groin with a coil of wire for the dangly bits - "the greatest boon ever given to weak men." Well, an electrical shock is one way to "invigorate" your manhood.

Radioactive Jock Strap


The wearer's male organs were then snuggled within a radioactive pouch. We shudder to think about the testicular cancer, sterility, or birth defects that might have resulted from this invention.


More radium again, this time in  underwear. The Radi-Endocrinator consisted of playing card-sized pieces of metal mesh impregnated with radium that were inserted into the front panel of a suspensory garment.







Urethral Sounds

In the 19th century, impotence was often thought to result from damage caused to the genitals through excessive masturbation. One symptom of this was strictures in the urethra, which were treated by inserting metal dilating rods, or sounds. These curved rods were pushed through the penis until the tip, which sometimes had a large knob on it, entered the urethra. A related treatment consisted of squirting a caustic substance, such as nitric acid or silver nitrate, into the urethra and bladder. Not surprisingly, few patients returned for a second treatment.

Strychnine Tonic

Now we know it as rat poison, but back in the day, this toxin was thought to have curative qualities. Of course, this was around the same time heroin was touted as "non-habit forming". Tonics containing strychnine were a popular remedy for impotence, prescribed by many reputable turn of the century physicians. However, at least one doctor noticed its effects weren't entirely beneficial. Dr. William Robinson, in his book The Treatment of Sexual Impotence (1913), noted that "strange as it may seem", patients prescribed strychnine often got better at first but then worsened in time, and in some cases, probably died.




Urine Therapy

Many ancient Eastern medical traditions suggest drinking one's own urine to treat a variety of conditions, including impotence. Urine therapy was advocated as an impotence cure by the Ayurvedic tradition of India, as well as Taoist practices from China dating back to the second century B.C. Proponents of the treatment point to the fact that urine does contain small amounts of male hormones such as testosterone and androgen.



Bee Stings

Spanish fly produces genital arousal by irritating the urethra, but some preferred to induce penile engorgement by applying topical irritants. The Kama Sutra suggested that men rub their penises with wasp stingers before intercourse to cause swelling, while others applied plant or insect extracts that caused itching and burning. One Persian method for inducing an erection reportedly involved inserting a wooden dildo smeared with a paste of pepper and ground nettles into the rectum.

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