• Weird History

The 10 Strangest Pre-Viagra Cures for Impotence

List RulesVote up the impotence cures so weird they make the idea of asking your doctor for Viagra seem appealing.

Viagra was approved for sale in the United States in 1998, but prior to that, men with erectile dysfunction had to make do with pre-Viagra impotence cures. And many of these erectile dysfunction cures from history were quite bizarre, to say the least.

Throughout history, men who couldn't perform have felt tremendous shame and embarrassment. To relieve this shame, some men took extreme measures. This includes everything from radiation to electric shocks and using various parts from animals to help them get it up. In other words, men have gone to great lengths to help their equipment grow to great lengths.

Now that products like Viagra and Cialis exist, men can treat impotence in a much safer way. (Although there are side effects, like the dreaded four-hour erection.) But they had to treat ED before Viagra, so here are some weird ways people treated impotence in the past. If you're a man struggling with this issue, you can at least be glad you weren't around 100 years ago.

  • 1

    Goat Testicle Transplant

    Photo: Vicente Castell / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    In 1917, John R. Brinkley went to Milford, KS, with a sketchy medical degree and treated people in the town. One farmer, Bill Stittsworth, asked Brinkley to treat him for "sexual weakness," but Brinkley said there was no cure at the time. But Stittsworth then noticed a sexually aggressive goat and joked that it was too bad he didn't have goat testicles. Stittswort thought maybe it was worth a shot and begged Brinkley to try it out. Nine months later, Stittsworth's wife gave birth to a child, thanks to Brinkley's cure. At least that's what Brinkley would have you believe.

    In reality, none of it is true - except for the part where he implanted goat testicles into men's testicular sacs. He definitely did do that. Unsurprisingly, it did not work.

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  • 2

    Animal Sperm

    Photo: Internet Archive Book Images / Wikimedia Commons / no known copyright restrictions

    French doctor Charles Edouard Brown-Sequard theorized that an injection of animal semen could cure impotence. In the late 1800s,  Dr. Brown-Sequard was 72 and he decided to insert semen from the testicles of dogs and guinea pigs into his own testicles. You know, just to see what would happen. Following the procedure, many of Dr. Brown-Sequard's colleagues were impressed by his relative vitality. So, they decided to test the treatment on their own patients. They all became experimental guinea pigs by using semen from actual guinea pigs.

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  • Strychnine, or Nux Vomica, is a poison used to kill rats or other rodents. And in the early 20th century, it was also sometimes prescribed for impotence. Doctors noticed that patients did often see an improvement... but eventually, they would get worse, and some probably died from the treatment. But does this mean if you give strychnine to a rat, it dies happy?

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  • 4

    Urethral Rods

    Photo: Internet Archive Book Images / flickr / No known copyright restrictions

    Urethral rods, also called urethral sounds, are exactly what you think they are - long metal rods inserted directly into the urethra. In the early 1800s, it was thought that this could produce an erection. An electric rod was sometimes used as well. One publication encouraged sending a mild current for 5-8 minutes.

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