In the 1920s various theories were developed on the anatomy and physiology of the erection; drive rods and Magdeburg hemispheres were used as analogies. Therapeutically, however, things did not advance beyond the prescription of testosterone preparations. In the Dutch Journal of Sexology of December 1994 there is description of how papaverine and yohimbine was already in use in 1921 in the treatment of men with erection problems. The two substances, which were already believed to improve erection quality, were combined by a German researcher to form pyt (papaverine-yohimbine-tartrate).
Extensive animal research was carried out on this compound. According to the researcher tomcats displayed ‘typical on-heat behaviour’ after systematic administration, while in anaesthetized rats ‘maximum vasodilation in the pelvis minor’ was observed. It was also established what doses were fatal to a cat, a frog, a rabbit and a mouse. Male impotence cost the lives of so many animals! Without their knowledge, male syphilis patients became the first human guinea pigs: these were the days before committees on medical research ethics. The results of the pilot study were never published.
From 1940 to i960, convinced that the traditional psychotherapeutic approach sometimes had no effect, the English psychiatrists Russell and Loewenstein used so-called coitus-training apparatus, with which the penis could be supported, enabling the man to have intercourse without an erection. The apparatus had an eye bolt with a rotatable link so that everything could be fastened as high as possible under the scrotum. In tightening the bolts care had to be taken that the pubic hairs were not trapped. The other end was placed around the penis in such a way that the scrotum could hang freely, but the glans could at the same time rest in a kind of ring, which was made of ebony and had five metal plates in the inside.
The theory was that the acidity and moisture level of the penis could be raised by an electric current, which would provide an effective stimulus. The purpose of this apparatus was to break the vicious circle of fear of failure and impotence, since it was evident even at that time
that certain men were not motivated to undergo any kind of talking therapy.
A different, but to some extent comparable solution is the artificial penis, to which some women have an aversion. The use of a dildo – the exotic term for an artificial penis – is as old as mankind. In the nineteenth century they sold like hot cakes in all European capitals: clay, paper, wax – every kind of raw material was tried. In using such an aid one must of course observe strict hygiene, and the use of a lubricant is sensible. With an artificial penis full penetration is not necessary, and may even be undesirable.