Extracts from

Science Discovers the Physiological Value of Continence

Dr Raymond W. Bernard

Mokelumne Hill, CA: Health Research, 1957

(Complete text here)


The physiological value of continence

An opinion has gained ground in modern times, not only among the general public, but also among physicians, that the belief in the physiological value of continence belongs to the dark ages of religious superstitions and scientific ignorance, and is incompatible with physiological knowledge. Certain pseudosexologists have exploited this idea to their commercial advantage and have created in the public mind a phobia in regard to continence, which is regarded as a cause of nervous and mental diseases and a positive health danger. On the basis of this belief, physicians and psychoanalysts have looked in continence for the cause of the nervous ailments of youth and have advised young men to visit prostitutes and risk venereal infection as a lesser evil than the assumed hazards of abstinence.
    A careful reading should, however, convince any open-minded reader that the above view is false, and that continence per se can never do harm, but is always beneficial; and that when trouble occurs in an individual not practicing normal sex relations, the fault is not continence but some vicarious means of sex expression, excessive nocturnal emissions, etc. In view of the richness of the semen in lecithin, cholesterol, phosphorus and other constituents of nervous and brain tissue it is clear that it is incontinence, or loss of these valuable nerve-nourishing substances which, by promoting undernutrition, is responsible for disturbed functioning of the nervous system and brain, and never true continence ...
    The semen is a viscid albuminous fluid, alkaline in reaction, which is very rich in calcium and phosphorus, also in lecithin, cholesterol, albumen, nucleoproteins, iron, vitamin E, etc. In the ejaculation of the normal man, about 226 million spermatozoa are given off; these are rich in phosphorized fats (lecithin), cholesterol (the parent-source of sex hormones), nucleoproteins and iron. An ounce of semen is considered to be equal in value to sixty ounces of blood, of which it constitutes an extract of some of its most valuable constituents, as far as its vitalizing power is concerned. Dr. Frederick McCann remarks on this point, ‘From what has been stated it must be admitted that the spermatic fluid does possess potentialities justifying the belief of ancient writers concerning its vital properties.’ ...
    The following are among the many physiological evidences which demonstrate the value of continence:
    1. There is a remarkable similarity of chemical composition between the semen and the central nervous system, both being especially rich in lecithin, cholesterin and phosphorus compounds, which would indicate that seminal emissions withdraw from the body substances necessary for the nutrition of nervous tissues.
    2. Excessive voluntary seminal losses (through masturbation, coitus, coitus interruptus, and contraceptive practices) are debilitating and harmful to the body and brain.
    3. Excessive involuntary seminal losses (through nocturnal emissions, diurnal emissions, spermatorrhea, etc.) are debilitating to the nervous system and may cause neurasthenia.
    4. Observations of the immediate effects of the sexual orgasm indicate that it temporarily exhausts the nervous system, and when repeated too frequently leads to chronic nerve-weakness (sexual neurasthenia).
    5. Continence is beneficial to the brain (for conserved lecithin from retained semen is a true brain food). Hence some of the greatest intellectual geniuses in ancient and modern times led continent lives. These include Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, Leonardo da Vinci, Spinoza, Newton, Kant, Beethoven, Herbert Spencer, etc. ...
    Convincing evidence of the benefits of continence and that the assumed ‘sexual necessity’ is an illusion is afforded by the study of the debilitating effects of sexual orgasm, which are immediate and striking. Though these have been attributed to purely nervous origin, there can be no doubt that they are chiefly due to the harmful effects of the seminal discharge, which involves a sudden withdrawal from the body of calcium, lecithin and other substances necessary for the normal functioning of the nervous system. Havelock Ellis, in his ‘Studies in the Psychology of Sex’, quotes the observations of Dr. F.B. Robinson on this subject ... He notes that when a stallion cohabits with a mare for the first time, after a short, vigorous coition, he is apt to fall down in a dead faint, which Robinson traces to brain anemia thus produced. He mentions one case of a mare falling dead immediately after coition. Young bulls frequently faint away after the first connection with a cow, and it is very common to observe a young bull so exhausted that he sneaks off to a quiet corner and lies down for a couple of hours. ... In the case of the boar, the orgasm rises to such a pitch that the animal seems on the verge of pain, and is usually exhausted for several hours.
    Havelock Ellis writes:

    ‘When we have realized how profound is the organic convulsion involved in [the] process of detumescence, and how great the motor excitement involved, we can understand how it is that very serious effects may follow coitus. Even in animals this is sometimes the case. Young bulls and stallions have fallen into a faint after first congress; boars may be seriously affected in a similar way; mares have been known even to fall dead. In the human species, and especially men, probably, as Bryan Robinson remarks, because women are protected by the greater slowness with which detumescence occurs in them – not only death itself, but innumerable disorders and accidents have been known to follow immediately after coitus, these results being mainly due to the vascular and muscular excitement involved in the process of detumescence. Fainting, vomiting, urination, defecation have been noted as occurring in young men after the first coitus. Epilepsy has been not infrequently recorded. Lesions of various organs, even rupture of the spleen, have sometimes taken place. In men of mature age, the arteries have at times been unable to resist the high blood-pressure and cerebral hemorrhage with paralysis has occurred. In elderly men the excitement of intercourse with strange women has sometimes caused death, and various cases are known of eminent persons who have thus died in the arms of young wives or prostitutes.’

    The celebrated Russian general Skobeloff, died while cohabiting with a girl of ill-fame. Robinson refers to the case of a judge who died shortly after connection with a girl in a brothel, and to the case of a man of seventy who died after intercourse with a prostitute. He also mentions the case of a man of 48 years of age who was found dying in a Chicago hotel after cohabiting with an accommodating widow. Also the case of a young man who fainted away at the first coitus, and that of a man of sixty years old who had connection with a strange woman and fell dead as he walked to the door immediately after the act. Such deaths usually occur in elderly men, and usually as the result of intercourse with strange women, which is more violent and intensive than with their wives. Atilla, king of the Huns, died while cohabiting with his young wife.
    Acton, the great medical authority, points out that in some persons the termination of the orgasm is accompanied by an epileptiform convulsion of more or less severity. This is succeeded by a great amount of prostration. This is seen in a very exaggerated form in the buck rabbit, which, after each copulation, may be noticed to fall on his side in a sort of epileptic fit, the whites of the eyes being turned up. The animal then gives several spasmodic twitches with its hind legs, and lies panting for several moments until the nervous system recovers itself. Acton mentions cases of deaths occurring in houses of prostitution as well as in the marriage bed as arising from the adverse influence of the sexual orgasm on the nervous system and on the body as a whole, especially in susceptible individuals. Entomological works abound with cases in which death follows copulation. Geddes and Thomson, in their book, ‘The Evolution of Sex’, refer to the fact that some spiders normally die after fertilizing the female, and such sacrifice of the male occurs also in other species. The association of reproduction and death is well known in the case of flying insects, as the common mayflies. Emergence into winged liberty, the love-dance and the process of fertilization, the deposition of eggs and the death of the parents, are often the crowded events of a few hours. ‘In higher animals,’ say these authors, ‘the fatality of the reproductive sacrifice has been greatly lessened, yet death may tragically persist, even in human life, as the direct nemesis of love. ... The temporarily exhausting effect of even moderate sexual indulgence is well known, as well as the increased liability to all forms of disease while the individual energies are thus lowered. ... Reproduction is the beginning of death.’ ...
    The resemblance of the sexual orgasm to the epileptic attack has been noted by many authors. The sudden withdrawal of calcium produced by the seminal discharge biochemically produces the tetany-like symptoms of the orgasm, which are so similar to those of the epileptic attack ... According to Acton, the sexual orgasm resembles the epileptic attack both in its phenomena and its effects. The mental hebetude and physical prostration following the discharge of nerve force characteristic of an epileptic attack also follow the sexual orgasm. The latter profoundly affects the whole nervous system with such intensity that Acton says that ‘it is only mature individuals who can bear even infrequent acts of copulation without more or less injury. In young persons all the vital powers should be conserved for growth and development.’
    Dr. Deslandes observed that epileptic attacks often follow coitus, as was the case with Napoleon. He says: ‘There are some individuals who are so susceptible to epilepsy that they have a regular attack of it whenever they indulge in sexual intercourse ... It is related of the first Napoleon – who, as is well known, was subject to epilepsy – that he experienced a paroxysm every time he attempted copulation.’
    Menard had a watch-dog which was affected with epilepsy every time he copulated. These attacks were characterized by convulsions and by loss of consciousness. ‘Coition,’ said Democritus, ‘is a kind of epilepsy.’ ‘It is,’ said Haller, ‘an action very similar to a convulsion, and which of itself astonishingly weakens and affects the whole nervous system.’ Tissot reports cases in which emissions of semen were accompanied by ‘a convulsion, a species of epilepsy; and the same observation furnishes evident proof of the influence which these violent actions have on the health of the unfortunate individual in whom they occur. The promptitude with which the weakness follows the act (of coitus) ... and the debility of all those affected with convulsive diseases prove that the weakness is produced by the orgasm.’ Tissot illustrates this point by referring to an Amman of a Swiss village, mentioned by Platerus, who, being remarried when old, and anxious to consummate his nuptials, was affected with a suffocation so violent, that he was obligated to desist. The same thing recurred every time he repeated the act. He consulted a number of quacks; one assured him that after he procured and took several medicines he was no more in danger. He hazarded a new attempt on this advice; and full of confidence, he persevered, only to die in the act in the arms of his wife. Says Tissot: ‘The violent palpitations which sometimes accompany coition are also a convulsive symptom.’ Hippocrates speaks of a young man in whom excesses in wine and sexual commerce produced, among other symptoms, constant palpitations; and Daleaus saw one seized in the act with a palpitation so violent that he would have suffocated if he persisted.
    Havelock Ellis remarks that the symptoms of coitus bear a strong resemblance to those of epilepsy, and refers to the statement of this effect by the sophist of Abdera, who said that coitus is a slight fit of epilepsy, ‘judging it to be an incurable disease.’ Caelius Aurelianus, one of the leading physicians of antiquity, said that ‘coitus is a brief epilepsy.’ ... Fere has recorded a case of a youth in whom the adoption of the practice of masturbation, several times a day, was followed by epileptic attacks, which ceased when masturbation was discontinued. West describes masturbation in an infant by thigh-rubbing which produced a convulsion that was mistaken by relatives for an epileptic fit. Tissot writes: ‘We know that paroxysms of epilepsy, when accompanied by an emission of seminal fluid, leave the patient more exhausted, and more confused, than in ordinary cases. ...’
    ... Mercier, an English psychiatrist, in his ‘Sanity and Insanity,’ writes that after the act of coitus, the resulting languor and lassitude indicate that a great strain has been placed on the store of energy available to the organism, whose seat is the nervous system, the highest regions of which – the brain – are most powerfully affected, and this tends to produce disorder of this organ. But while, with a normally constituted organism, the stress of the sexual orgasm is not sufficient to produce brain disorder, unless it is repeated with undue frequency, in one whose energies are naturally defective and which is constitutionally below the normal level of stability, the effect of the act will be to produce disturbed cerebral functioning. This is especially true when such indulgence is begun at too early an age. ... According to this eminent English psychiatrist, the sexual orgasm has by its very nature a disintegrative, deteriorating influence on the organism; and the loss of energy it entails, especially when frequently repeated, results in apathy, lethargy and dementia. ...
    Besides those cases in which the dementia produced by sexual excess is sufficiently pronounced to incapacitate the wretched individual for the duties of life, and to render it necessary to commit him to asylum care, Mercier mentions that there are an enormous number of individuals, forming a considerable part of the total population, in which premature decadence of mental powers, premature exhaustion of energy and premature senility result from excess sexual indulgence in early life. ...
    Rouband describes as follows the immediate effects of the sexual orgasm of coitus, which he compares to an epileptic attack:

    ‘The circulation quickens, the arteries beat strongly, the venous blood, arrested by muscular contraction, increases the general heat, and this stagnation, more pronounced in the brain by the contraction of the muscles of the neck and the throwing of the head backward, causes a momentary cerebral congestion, during which intelligence is lost and the faculties abolished. The eyes, violently injected, become haggard, and the look uncertain. Or in the majority of cases the eyes are closed spasmodically to avoid the contact of the light. The respiration is hurried, sometimes interrupted, and may be suspended by the spasmodic contraction of the larynx, and the air, for a time compressed, is at last emitted in broken and meaningless words. The congested nervous centers only communicate confused sensations and volitions; mobility and sensation show extreme disorder; the limbs are seized by convulsions and sometimes by cramps, or are thrown wildly about or become stiff like iron bars. The jaws, tightly pressed, grind the teeth, and in some persons the delirium is carried so far that they bite to bleeding the shoulders their companions have imprudently abandoned to them. This frantic state of epilepsy lasts but a short time, but it suffices to exhaust the forces of the organism, especially in man. It is, I believe, Galen who said, “Omne animal post coitum triste.” (All animals are sad after coitus.)’

    Deslandes ... writes:

    ‘During this tumult and after the crisis, the general state of the patient conforms in every manner to that of the genital system. Thus the face reddens, the neck swells, the veins become filled, the skin now burning and now moistened with sweat, the heart beats with rapidity. In fact, there is a state of fever which almost justifies us in placing the act of venery among diseases. At the same time the nervous centers, the cerebrum, the cerebellum and the spinal cord experience a very powerful impression. As the state progresses, consciousness is lost, and the subject is, as it were, in a state of delirium. The will is suspended, and the muscles are not controlled by it, but by the nerve centers which are so much irritated. The trunk and limbs are agitated by involuntary motions and chills. The disturbance increases until the crisis arrives, when the convulsions affect the genital system; a fit of epilepsy as it were ensues; the sight becomes dim; the trunk stiffens and the neck is thrown back; and finally this state might be regarded as a violent access of disease if the beginning and end of it were not known.
    ‘The genital apparatus, lately so full of life, now becomes flaccid; the scrotum becomes loose and pendulent, and a sensation of torpor, of fatigue, of chill follows. The convulsive motions are succeeded by a kind of paralysis, and all attempts at new excitement are in vain ... Now, however, the individual is changed; his face has lost its color, his limbs are stiff, and without motion as if paralyzed; the head is painful, the mind is slow and limbs are incapable of the least effort. The hearing is dull; the sight is deranged, and the external senses import to the brain only imperfect impressions. The pulsations of the heart are feeble, the pulse is small, the veins are collapsed and the eyelids are livid. The soul is left in a state of languor and sadness and becomes as it were melancholy.’

    During the sexual orgasm of coitus symptoms occur which border on psychopathology; and there can be little doubt that excessive frequency of such symptoms may indelibly impress themselves on the brain and nervous system. ...
    According to Prof. Lydston, the results of sexual excess are similar to those of masturbation, and both result from the disturbance of blood chemistry and general metabolism caused by the withdrawal from the body of the substances of which the semen is composed: calcium, phosphorus, lecithin, cholesterol, albumen, iron, etc. ... ‘Moderation in sexual intercourse is not only conducive to prolonged virility, but to longevity. ...’
    ... Professor von Gruber, while doubting the allegation that sexual abstinence may prove harmful to the nervous system, is convinced that sexual excess certainly is. He believes that frequent discharges of semen lead to a ‘reduction of the peculiar internal secretion of the testes’, which is otherwise resorbed into the blood-stream. The immediate effects of sexual excess, he states, are depression, fatigue and exhaustion. As further symptoms there is pressure in the lumbar region, nervous irritability, a feeling of pressure in the head, stupidity, insomnia, ringing in the ears, spots before the eyes, shunning of light, a feeble trembling and actual shaking, pounding of the heart, tendency to sweating and muscular weakness. There is also weakness of memory, neurasthenia, melancholic depression and disinclination to physical or mental effort. The digestive activity becomes less efficient and food is less well utilized. There is a deficiency in blood and a lowered resistance to infectious bacteria, the tubercle bacillus in particular, for which reason sexual excess is known to predispose to consumption aside from its tendency to drain the body of calcium. There is irritable weakness of the genitals, premature ejaculation, frequent nocturnal emissions, and increasing impotence. The more frequent nocturnal emissions that result increase the nervous irritability and exhaustion (i.e., neurasthenia). All these effects are more marked in the young and the aged; in the former, sexual excess, by its detrimental influence on metabolism and the process of growth, stunts physical and mental development, while in the aged it hastens death, often by causing heart failure.
    By producing enervation and by exciting the nervous system, Dr. Shelton claims that sexual excess can further the development of any disease to which the individual is subject. For this reason a person predisposed to epilepsy is almost certain to have an attack after each sexual act. Some cases of epilepsy do not develop until after marriage for this reason. Asthmatic attacks and St. Vitus’s dance are often brought on and perpetuated by sexual excess. Spinal and heart disorders are apt to occur. There is an increase of blood-pressure, which predisposes to apoplexy. Dr. Shelton writes:

    ‘No function is so exhausting to the whole system as this. If excessively indulged in, no practice can possibly be so enervating. J. Bradford Sax probably overestimates the amount of energy consumed in coition when he says, “Probably more of the nervous fluid or influence is expended in a single sexual crisis than would suffice to carry on all the vital operations, perhaps for a day.” At any rate the energy expended is very considerable and if the act is indulged in daily, or even weekly, the indulgent individual need not hope for health and strength.
    ‘What constitutes excess? The reply has been given: Anything is excess when procreation is not the end. Man is sexually perverted. He is the only animal that has his “social problem,” the only animal that supports prostitution, the only animal that practices self-abuse, the only animal that is demoralized by all forms of sexual perversions, the only animal whose male will attack the females, the only animal where the desire of the female is not the law, the only one that does not exercise his sexual powers in harmony with their primitive constitution.’

    ... Of all members of the mammalian family, civilized man alone is a victim of an exaggerated and morbid sexual urge, a condition which he has inflicted, to a certain extent, on the animals which he has domesticated and which have adopted his diet, especially the dog. Wild animals in a state of nature practice copulation only at certain mating seasons for the purpose of reproduction. Civilized man practices this act at all times, and in most cases without intention to conceive. On the other hand, so-called savages and primitive races leading more natural lives and who follow their natural instincts to a greater extent are far chaster in their sexual behavior, as noted by Havelock Ellis. Such considerations must lead one to the conclusion that the sex life of civilized men is unnatural and that the excessive manifestation of the sex urge among them is due to certain aphrodisiacal stimuli rather than to natural instinct; among such stimuli are a high-protein meat diet (accompanied by physical inactivity), the use of tobacco, alcohol and coffee, sexually stimulating literature, dramas, motion pictures, conversation, etc. For these reasons civilized man has departed from the natural law, obeyed by animals and primitive races, which requires the separation of the sexes during pregnancy and lactation, for the benefit of both mother and child. Violation of this law may account for the large number of physically and mentally defective offspring produced by civilized races as compared with animals and primitive peoples. ...
    Animals, like men, become perverted sexually and victims of an exaggerated sexual urge when they are subjected to artificial feeding and confinement. Thus apes, when confined to a cage and fed on meat and other sexually stimulating food, while previously gentle and tame on a fruit diet, become extremely licentious and vicious. Then they masturbate excessively and have intercourse daily, while the female consequently menstruates as freely as a woman. (Other female mammals leading more natural lives do not menstruate, though under domestication and excessive feeding, cows and other species do.) ...


A biochemical theory of the neuroses and psychoses

... The eminent physiologist, Prof. Eugen Steinach has performed experiments which definitely showed that the internal secretions of the sex glands, after being resorbed into the circulation, pass principally to the brain and spinal cord, wherein they are stored. ...
    [I]t is interesting to note that in contrast with the lasciviousness of idiots and the insane, which, according to Dr. Spitzka, is largely responsible for their arrested brain nutrition and development, most of the greatest mental geniuses in history led strictly continent lives (which should result in superior brain nutrition from the conservation of lecithin and other brain-nourishing seminal constituents). Thus among philosophers we have Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, Porphyry, Proclus, Leibniz, Berkeley, Locke, Spinoza, Kant and Spencer; among artists, Leonardo da Vinci, Michael Angelo, Raphael and Fra Angelico; among composers, Handel and Beethoven; and among scientists Newton. ...
    The fluids elaborated by the testes, the prostate gland and the accessory sex glands are very rich in phosphorus, as are the spermatozoa themselves. The loss of semen must therefore lower the phosphorus content of the blood, for it is from here that these glands derive the phosphorus for the manufacture of their secretions. This must deprive the nervous system of an element so necessary for its nutrition and normal well-being. This explains the neurasthenic effects of masturbation and sexual excess, which are due to loss of phosphorus through seminal emissions. The same occurs in prostatitis, where considerable phosphorus is lost through the expelled prostatic fluid. Lorand points out the beneficial influence of phosphorus when administered in many brain disorders, which are accompanied by a diminution of the phosphorus content of the brain, as Marie found in idiocy and dementia praecox. In the brain phosphorus is present chiefly in the form of lecithin, a phosphorized fat. ...
    Evans states that during thinking and mental exertion phosphates are increased in the excreta; and he therefore concludes that thinking involves an oxidation of phosphorus compounds in the brain (under the catalytic influence of the iodine of the thyroid hormone). ... It is thus clear that phosphorus, oxygen and sufficient thyroid hormone (iodine) are all necessary for the normal generation of brain electricity, and that in the absence of either of these three elements, there will be deficient brain action. For it is well known that the brain is richer in phosphorus than any other part of the body, and also uses up oxygen three times as rapidly as other tissues; also without the catalytic influence of the thyroid hormone, it cannot function normally – or without iodine on which element the thyroid depends for the manufacture of its secretion.
    According to this point of view, neurasthenia may be considered as representing a condition of phosphorus deficiency, or rather lecithin deficiency – for lecithin is the form in which phosphorus is present in the myelin sheaths of the nerves, the nerve-oil whose burning keeps the fires of nerve vitality burning. Since lecithin is a prominent constituent of the semen, we can understand why excessive loss of semen can cause nerve starvation and all the symptoms of neurasthenia. When the lack of lecithin and organic phosphorus is more serious, the brain itself suffers lecithin deficiency and becomes disturbed in its functioning, just as any other starved organ is when deprived of the elements it requires for its normal nutrition and functioning. In this way, psychoses commence to manifest. ...
    The action of alcohol, like that of anesthetics, is dependent on its ability to dissolve and remove lecithin from the brain; and when the concentration of brain lecithin is sufficiently lowered, insanity is the result. Sexual excess produces a similar effect; and, together with alcohol, constitutes a principal cause of neuropsychopathic conditions.
    The modern view is that the origin of nervous and mental disorders is to be looked for in the endocrine glands. Now it is interesting to note that organic phosphorus, in the form of lecithin, is not only a prominent constituent of nerve and brain tissue but also of the endocrine glands, and is as necessary to the nutrition of the latter as it is of the former. ...
    In view of these observations, we can understand the reason why Dr. Brinkley places the sex glands in the position of master glands in the endocrine chain, for they alone, through their external secretion, are able to withdraw considerable amounts of lecithin and phosphatides from the circulation, and thus directly affect the functioning of the other glands, which are so dependent on phosphatides for their normal functioning. ... But while the immediate effect of such phosphatide withdrawal is overactivity of the other endocrines, ... the final effect is to produce underactivity and atrophy of the endocrines, due to chronic phosphatide deficiency, and this is why sexual excess leads to an earlier appearance of senility, a condition resulting from endocrine hypofunction and degeneration. Thus the basic cause of endocrine dysfunctions – hypoactivity or hyperactivity – is to be found in the sex glands and their ability to alter the lecithin or phosphatide content of the blood, which is the primary raw material from which the endocrines manufacture their hormones.
    There is no time in life when the endocrine glands of the individual may be more powerfully affected by a deficiency of phosphatides than during the months of embryonic development, when these glands are most sensitive to their chemical environment, the maternal blood-stream. Deficiency of phosphatides in the mother’s blood at this time, due to ovarian overactivity (as the result of sexual intercourse) may affect the development of the thyroid and other endocrine glands of the embryo, as well as of its central nervous system. ... Dr. Schlapp believes that glandular depletion of the mother during gestation is the basic cause of the production of cretins and idiots, when there is no direct hereditary causation. ...
    The phosphatide withdrawal caused by activity of the sex glands and seminal emission excercises a most powerful effect upon the thymus glands, which are most dependent on adequate phosphorus supply for their normal well-being and activity. Now it is interesting to note that coincident with the increased activity of the sex glands at puberty and the subsequent withdrawal by them of phosphatides, the thymus gland degenerates. Such degeneration may be viewed as a product of lecithin deficiency, similar to the endocrine degeneration which McCarrison notes to result from vitamin B deficiency. ...
    That the internal secretion of the sex glands may have a nutritive function in relation to nervous tissue and brain cells, and that mental diseases may result from its absence, is indicated by the observation of McCarrison, who found that atrophy of the testicles is frequently found in cerebral and spinal diseases. ...
    These facts indicate an intimate relation between spermatozoa and the cells of the cerebral cortex, absence of the formation of the former leading to decline of the latter. There is evidence that spermatozoa, when not discharged, are resorbed into the blood-stream and carried to the brain. Both in their chemical composition and their elongated form, they have a remarkable similarity to brain-cells, which, like them, lack the capacity of reproduction, in contrast to most other cells of the body ... Could spermatozoa, passing to the brain and spinal marrow, have a relation to the mobile neuroglia, which likewise move about by flagellated motions of their tail, and which are potential cells of the central nervous system? This is an interesting speculation. Norret must have had some such thought in mind when he remarked, ‘The resorption of what Dr. Le Camus called a mass of microscopic brains is a source of vigor and longevity.’
    That the semen contains substances of great physiological value, especially in relation to the nutrition of the nervous system, is clear from its chemical analysis, which shows that it is extremely rich in lecithin, cholesterin and phosphorus, the chief constituents of nerve and brain tissue. It therefore follows that the withdrawal of these substances from the circulation by seminal discharges (voluntarily or involuntarily) must have an adverse effect on the nutrition of nerve and brain tissue and result in disturbed functioning. Such biochemical considerations support the view that loss of seminal fluid involves lowered nutrition of nerve and brain tissue, and, when excessive, leads to nervous and mental disorders. ...
    Both the semen and the brain are composed largely of phosphorized fats, or phospholipins, to which class lecithin belongs. Lecithin is a substance of great importance for the nervous tissue. It is claimed by some that the nerve fatigue experienced at the end of the day’s activities is due to an exhaustion of the daily supply of lecithin in the myelin sheaths of the nerves, and that the invigorating effect of sleep is due to this lecithin being replenished during the night. The chronic fatigue of old age is considered to be due to a lecithin deficiency of the endocrine glands and the body as a whole. Lecithin is essential to the life of the nervous system, the brain and the endocrine glands. ...
    Now since both the brain and the semen depend for their supply of lecithin on what exists in the blood, it is clear that excessive withdrawal of lecithin by the sex glands would mean that a smaller amount would be available for the nutrition of nerve and brain tissue. May not neuroses and psychoses be due to such diminished nutrition of nerve and brain cells due to excessive withdrawal of lecithin and cholesterol from the blood to replace expended seminal secretions? The tonic effect of lecithin preparations upon the nervous system would indicate that the conservation of the body’s own lecithin should constitute a therapeutic measure of primary importance in the treatment of neurasthenia and mental disorders. ...
    The only other part of the body that can compare with brain, nerve and endocrine tissue in high content of lecithin is the semen and spermatozoa, for like the brain, the semen is a fatty substance rich in phosphorized fats, the phosphatides or phospholipins. That considerable lecithin is required for the formation of spermatozoa is indicated by Miescher’s observation that the amount of lecithin in the blood is increased during the period of formation of the reproductive cells. ...
    That insanity might be due to a deficiency of lecithin in the brain, resulting from a deficiency in the blood, is indicated by the observations of Lassaigne, who found a decreased quantity of lecithin in the white brain matter of the insane. Commenting on this subject, Fischer, a French biochemist states: ‘The content of the brain in combined lipoids seems, then, to have some relation to intellectual power and to its modifications as well.’ Similarly, insanity due to alcohol has been shown to be due to the same cause, since alcohol is a lipoid solvent. It has been shown by experiment that in the series of agents which act as narcotics, the anesthetic power increases in proportion to the quantity of lipoids that the liquids employed are capable of dissolving from the brain. Chloroform and ether both possess the property of dissolving lipoids ... It has also been shown that after anesthesia, ether and chloroform accumulate in the nervous tissues. ... May not the deep unconsciousness that follows sexual activity be due to the withdrawal of lipoids from the brain by the sexual orgasm, producing results similar to those that follow the administration of an anesthetic, which likewise withdraws lipoids from this organ?
    Since both the brain and the sex organs extract identical substances from the blood (lecithin, cholesterol, etc.), this would mean that there exists a chemical antagonism between them, since increased activity of the latter means decreased nutrition of the former. The more lipoids that the sex glands withdraw from the blood, the less is available to the brain. ... [A]ll loss of seminal lipoids, whether through coitus, masturbation or nocturnal emissions, are at the expense of the brain: and this effect is most detrimental during childhood and before maturity, when the brain is in the process of growth. ...
    Continence results in a greater supply of lecithin, cholesterol and phosphates in the blood, and consequently in the brain. Brown-Sequard has shown that testicular secretions increase nerve and brain vitality. Chakraberty remarks that the eating of desiccated testicles has a stimulating effect on the central nervous system ‘due to the nucleo-albumins, lecithin and phosphorus in which they are so rich, and which are also prominent constituents of nervous tissues.’ (However, there is no need to eat desiccated testicles when each individual can conserve and resorb the valuable secretions of his own.) According to Fischer, the sex glands may be considered as reservoirs of lipoids, which they release into the blood to energize the brain. And conversely, through external emission, they can withdraw lipoids from the blood, and thus indirectly from the brain.
    No adequate comprehension of the sexual question can be had without understanding the chemical composition of the semen and spermatozoa. When it is realized that they contain in high concentration phospholipins essential to the nutrition and normal functioning of the central nervous system, it will be realized that withdrawal of these substances from the body by seminal emissions must have an adverse effect on the nutrition of the brain and nerves, predisposing to neurasthenia and other nervous and mental affections. ...
    The excessive withdrawal of lipoids from the blood by the sex glands is at the expense of the adrenal cortex, just as the withdrawal of protein observed by Miescher is at the expense of the muscles. Excessive gonadal activity, by depriving the adrenal cortex of lipoids, leads to its atrophy. Thus, in cases of dementia praecox, many of whom were habitual masturbators, there was noted by Mott atrophy of the adrenal cortex together with progressive atrophy of the testicles. It has also been noted that excessive withdrawal of nucleoproteins and other substances from the blood to form spermatozoa may cause diminution in the size of the thymus gland and its atrophy, which probably is the reason why this occurs after puberty. (Could the atrophy of the pineal gland, accompanying that of the thymus, not be due to a similar cause, in view of the richness of the pineal in lecithin?) ...
    [T]he thymus increases in weight from birth to puberty, but as soon as the first seminal emissions occur, with the onset of puberty, it commences to retrogress and lose weight. These facts indicate that the sexual changes of puberty, instead of being the effect of thymus atrophy at this time, are the cause. ...
    The proteins of the brain cell and those of the head of the spermatozoon are very similar. Both contain abundant amounts of nucleic acid, and the head of the spermatozoa, like the Nissl substance of the brain cell, is very rich in nucleoproteins. Both the spermatozoon and the cortical brain cell are remarkably similar in their general formation. It is significant that the spermatozoon contains more phosphorus that any other cell of the body except the brain cells; and since with each ejaculation 226 million spermatozoa are given off, it is clear that in this way a considerable amount of phosphorus is lost, in addition to the phosphatic constituents of the semen. ...
    It is interesting to note that the cerebro-spinal fluid, like the semen, is rich in calcium, phosphorus, sodium, magnesium and chlorine, and has an alkaline reaction. The ancients noted a relation between the semen and the spinal cord, and Hippocrates believed that involuntary seminal losses can cause tabes dorsalis. That they cause spinal weakness is well known.
    That the sex glands and the brain have an intimate physiological connection with each other, which is antagonistic in the sense that greater activity of one leads to decreased activity of other, has been stated by Havelock Ellis in the following words:

    ‘The brain and the sexual organs are the great rivals in using up bodily energy, and there is an antagonism between extreme brain vigor and extreme sexual vigor, even though they may sometimes appear at different periods in the same individual. In this sense, there is no paradox in the saying of Roman Correa that potency is impotency and impotency potency, for a high degree of energy, whether in athletics or in intellect, is unfavorable to the display of energy in other directions. ... The masters of all the more intensely emotional arts have frequently cultivated a high degree of chastity. This is notably the case as regards music. One thinks of Mozart, of Beethoven, of Schubert. ...’

    Dr. Ryan expressed a similar thought when he wrote:

    ‘Bacon observed that no one of great genius in antiquity had been addicted to women; and he stated that among the moderns the illustrious Newton had never enjoyed sexual intercourse. This fact confirms the remark made by Aretaeus, and since verified by physiologists, that continence, or the reabsorption of the semen into the bodily economy, impresses the whole organism with an extreme tension and vigor, exciting the brain and exalting the faculty of thought.’

    ... Prof. F.G. Lydston presents evidence to prove that neurasthenia has its roots in prostatic dysfunction caused by sexual indulgence, which results in depletion and derangement of the prostatic hormone. ... Dr. Allen ... considers masturbation and sexual excess as the causes of impotence, producing as they do inflammation and congestion of the prostatic urethra, a condition predisposing to nocturnal emissions and spermatorrhea, which precipitate loss of functional activity of the testicles ...
    It appears that the internal secretion of the prostate gland accelerates growth and metamorphosis by its stimulating influence on the thyroid and pituitary gland ... Clear evidence of the importance of the prostate secretion to the body is afforded by the study of its loss as occurs in cases of spermatorrhea, a disease characterized by the involuntary emission of prostatic and other seminal secretions unaccompanied by any erotic sensation – a condition closely allied to prostatitis. The loss of lecithin, cholesterin, phosphates, etc. thus occasioned exercises its most immediate and profound effect on the spinal cord and entire central nervous system. Spermatorrhea (literally ‘a flow of semen’) was known to Hippocrates, who called the disease tabes dorsalis. ... For the cure of this condition, Hippocrates advised sex abstinence and avoidance of alcohol. Celsus advised in addition a special raw vegetable diet. Aretaeus advised continence and cold baths. Languius advises intestinal purification through proper diet as the basic factor in the cure of this condition. ...
    Our modern knowledge of spermatorrhea dates back to Lallemand, who made the most careful study of this disease. He traces it to an inflammation, congestion and hypersecretion of the mucous membranes of the urethra, primarily initiated by frequent sexual orgasm and intensified by the irritation of toxic blood resulting from wrong diet and autointoxication. Alcohol, coffee, tea and spices, by irritating the genital mucous membranes, he believes to contribute to this condition. The chief causes, he says, are ‘sexual excess and masturbation, which act principally by provoking inflammation or irritation of the ducts, and prolonged erections excited by erotic ideas or lascivious publications.’
    Professor Bartholow of the Medical College of Ohio, in his book on spermatorrhea, considers masturbation and sexual excess as the chief causes. He then goes on to show that the frequently repeated sexual orgasm causes a condition of inflammation of the urethra, manifesting first as nocturnal emissions, and when more serious merging imperceptibly into true spermatorrhea, in which the act of emission occurs without erection, pleasure or particular sensation, the semen gradually losing its color, odor and spermatozoa gradually coming to resemble mucous or prostatic secretion, often being lost with the urine. Professor Bartholow believes that spermatorrhea may cause degeneration of the cells of the gray matter of the spinal cord, which indicates a relationship to tabes dorsalis or locomotor ataxia, which has been repeatedly observed by physicians in both ancient and modern times. This is understandable in view of the close similarity in chemical composition between the semen and the spinal cord, for which reason excessive losses of semen can deprive the myelin of spinal tissue of lecithin, which is so necessary for the nutrition of nerve cells. ...
    Formerly spermatorrhea and gonorrhea were identified as the same disease, and also gonorrhea and syphilis. Spermatorrhea appears to represent a catarrhal inflammation of the genital mucous membranes, accomplished by a mucous discharge. Ordinary nocturnal emissions constitute a primary manifestation of such a catarrhal inflammation, while true spermatorrhea represents a more advanced form, being the male homologue of leucorrhea in the female. When the inflammation of the genital mucosa advances from a catarrhal to a purulent stage, the discharge assumes a purulent character; and in place of whitish or colorless mucus, there occurs the characteristic yellowish purulent discharges of gonorrhea accompanied by the gonococcus. ... It is clear that the neurological symptoms of gonorrhea, like those of spermatorrhea, are produced, if not exaggerated, to a great extent by the loss of lecithin, through the seminal discharges which invariably precede this disease.
    As the inflammation of the genital mucosa advances from a purulent (gonorrheal) state of inflammation to a fibroid and atrophic one, we have the characteristic fibroid growths and cancers of the uterus in the female, while in the male, the cancer-like growths on the sexual organs characteristic of the beginnings of syphilis appear. That the demineralization and dealkalization of the blood through previous seminal discharges prepare the soil for such cancerous developments, there can be no doubt, while a resulting condition of acid intoxication can prepare the biochemical conditions of the organism for the skin pathologies of secondary syphilis, which bear a resemblance to those that accompany the seminal discharges resulting from the masturbation and involuntary emissions of puberty. ...
    From the foregoing, it is clear that there is an important internal physiological relation between the secretions of the sex glands and the central nervous system, that the loss of these secretions, voluntarily or involuntarily, exercises a detrimental effect on the nutrition and vitality of the nerves and brain, while, on the other hand, the conservation of these secretions has a vitalizing effect on the nervous system, a regenerating effect on the endocrine glands and a rejuvenating effect on the organism as a whole.

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Other books by Raymond Bernard, published by Health Research:



Sex and sexuality

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