CHAPTER IX. SEX DISEASES
The sex diseases are the same in both sexes, whether developed by direct or accidental infection. They are the greatest practical argument in favor of continence, morality and marriage in the sex relation.
Gonorrhea is a pus-discharging inflammation of the canal known as the urethra, which passing through the entire length of the organ, carries both the urine and the seminal fluid. It is caused by a venereal bacillus, the gonococcus. Under favorable conditions and with right treatment, gonorrhea may be cured, though violently painful, in fourteen days. Often the inflammation extends, becomes chronic and attacks other organs. This chronic gonorrhea often causes permanent contraction of the urethra, which leads to the painful retention of urine, catarrh of the bladder, and stone. Chronic gonorrhea, too, often ends in death, especially if the kidneys are attacked. A cured case of gonorrhea does not mean immunity from further attacks. New infections are all the more easily acquired. Gonorrhea has even more dangerous consequences in women than in men. The gonococcus bacilli infect all the inner female genital organs. They cause frequent inflammations and lead to growths in the belly. Women thus attacked usually are apt to be sterile; they suffer agonies, and often become chronic invalids. The child born of a gonorrheal mother, while passing through the infected genital organs, comes to life with infected eyelids. This is Blennorrhea, which may result in total blindness. Gonorrhea also causes inflammation of the joints, gonorrheal rheumatism, testicular inflammations which may lead to sterility. Some authorities claim that fully half the sterility in women is caused by gonorrheal infection of the Fallopian tubes. Gonorrheal infection of the eyes at birth is now prevented by first washing them in a saturated solution of boric acid, then treating them with a drop of weak silver solution.
Syphilis is a still more terrible venereal disease. It usually appears first in small, hard sores, hard chancres, on the sexual parts or the mouth. Then the syphilitic poison spreads throughout the whole body by means of the blood. After a few weeks it breaks out on the face or body. Its final cure is always questionable. Syphilis may lie dormant for years, and then suddenly become active again. It breaks out in sores on all parts of the body, often eats up the bone, destroys internal organs, such as the liver, causes hardening of the lungs, diseases of the blood vessels and eye diseases. Ulcers of the brain and nerve paralysis often result from it. One of its most terrible consequences is consumption of the spinal marrow and paralysis of the brain, or paresis. The first slowly hardens and destroys the spinal marrow, the second the brain. These diseases are only developed by previous syphilitics. As a rule they occur from 5 to 20 years after infection, usually 10 or 15 years after it. And they usually happen to persons who believed themselves completely cured. Consumption of the spinal marrow leads to death in the course of a few years of continual torture. Paralysis of the brain turns the sufferer into a human ruin, gradually extinguishing all mental and nervous functions, sentience, movement, speech and intellect.
One danger of syphilis is the fact that its true nature may be overlooked during the first period, because of the lack of pronounced symptoms. Its early sores may easily be mistaken for some skin affection. Mercury and other means are successful in doing away with at least the more noticeable signs of syphilis during the first and secondary stages. The modern medical treatment using mercury and Salvarsan (606) in alternation, has been very successful. It is claimed that by following it, syphilis may be totally cured if taken in hand during the first stage. The sores developed during the first two or three years of the disease are very infectious. In the case of a chronic syphilis of three or four years' standing, the sores as a rule are no longer infectious. It is possible, however, for a syphilitic of this description to bring forth syphilitic children, without infecting his wife. Such children either die at birth, or later, of this congenital syphilis. They may also die of spinal consumption or paresis between the ages of 10 and 20. The mortality of all syphilitic children is very great. In most cases, however, healthy children are born of the wedlock of relatively cured syphilitics, though they are often sterile. Young men who have had recourse to prostitutes, often inoculate their wives with gonorrhea or syphilis, and thus the plague is spread.
THE SOFT CHANCRE
The soft chancre is the third form of venereal disease (the hard chancre being the first stage of syphilis). It is the least dangerous of the venereal diseases, but unfortunately, relatively the one which occurs most seldom. When not complicated with syphilis, it appears locally. It is a larger or smaller sore feeding and growing on the genital organs.
VENEREAL DISEASE AN ADVOCATE OF CONTINENCE
The most tragic consequence of all venereal disease is the part it plays in the infection of innocent children, and innocent wives and mothers. Often a pure and chaste woman is thus deprived in the most cruel and brutal manner of the fruit of all her hopes and dreams of happiness. Similarly, a young man may find himself hopelessly condemned to a short life of pain and misery. He may also suffer from the knowledge that he has ruined the lives of those dearest to him. Venereal disease, syphilis in particular, emphasizes the practical value of continence—quite aside from its moral one—in a manner which cannot be ignored!