Redundant feeding, or too free use of the fat making foods, causing obesity, is not only a reason of enfeebled procreative power in man and woman, but may render either sterile altogether. It is a fact commonly understood. that high feeding and the accumulation of fat unfits the choicest animals for sires or breeders. Plants overfed and having too much foliage do not flower or fruit well. Pruning, and turning the forces in plants to hardy but limited growth, secures the best bearing. Excessive pre occupation of the vital energies with the work of digestion and assimilation, or in any way, seems to limit procreative vigor. If the gross or gluttonous feeder lacks nerve force, it is quite easy to take so much food that the waste power is not equal to the removal of the surplus of food taken, so there is not only an accumulation of fat, but retained, worn-out, useless material, which remains and checks all the vital functions, until the whole bodily machinery, like a watch with its wheels filled with dirt, moves at best but feebly, or stops altogether. A life of luxury or pampered idleness is not only self-destruc tive, but destroys the hope of vigorous progeny. A temperate and simple life is not only conducive to the greatest personal happiness and well-being, but is the price that must ever be paid for the highest vigor of procreative power with both men and women.
The possession of abundant nerve-force, well di rected and well preserved, is a most desirable fitting for all life's ennobling activities. The avoidance of foods almost purely carbonaceous (which are essen tially fat-making or heat-making) is a precaution needful to those who would not grow fat, and among these and in most common use are oils, animal fats, cake, rich pastry, sugar confections, starch, and the foods containing starch largely, as the finest white flour, potatoes, sago, tapioca, etc.
All the lean, dark meats, eggs, the entire class of shell-fish, and both salt and fresh water fish, peas, beans, celery, and all the edible plants and fruits, are useful foods where free waste and good strength are desired. The oatmeal gives us good nerve nutrition; also the wheat, which is rich in the phosphates after the starch is removed; and for this reason the third grade of flour, which contains the gluten, and that which is next the outer bran, although making the darker flour, is really the richest in nutrition.
I have known two instances in which the skim milk diet only, continuing in one instance for one year, in the other for three months, resulted most favorably, not only in marked reduction in fat, but in greatly improved health and strength. A pint every three hours from six A. M. to nine P. M. is a requisite amount for those not engaged in active physical labor. The weight should be reduced to that indicated by well-developed muscle and simple rotundity. In returning from the milk diet to the solid food, the dinner should be taken at mid-day, using the milk, one quart from seven to eight in the morning, and a pint from six to nine in the evening; and after a time a breakfast of solid food may be resumed and the milk be used only at night. It must not be forgotten that milk contains all the elements from which animal structures are formed, and can sus tain life indefinitely even if no other food be taken.
There is a form of enlargement and hardening of the uterus which always results in sterility. I have never known an instance of cure in such a case. The uterus becomes from four to eight times larger than the natural size, keeping its usual form without tenderness or other evidence of inflammation. With this unusual growth a process of hardening goes on, until the organ becomes almost semi-cartilaginous, and all the natural elasticity of the structures is lost. In several marked instances I have traced this condi tion to a precisely similar cause, viz., the habitual use of the cold vaginal injection directly after coi tion, to prevent pregnancy. In the various cases this practice had continued from three to eight years, had prevented child-bearing, and afterward, although children were greatly desired by most of these wives, not one of them ever became a mother, and the gen eral health, particularly the nervous system, seemed to suffer much from the shock thus given to it.
There is another fault which I may with propriety speak of here; which, although not directly the cause of sterility, is a source of enfeebled, defective mother hood. I refer to those states of mental antagonism, whether from apathy, shyness, fear, dread, anger, or disgust, or any wrong or selfish thought which in part or altogether reverses or sends back to the brain or spinal cord those currents of vitality which should come in the fulness of rest and loving affection to the sexual act. While it is true that fear, hate, or the whole force of mental antagonisms would not pre vent conception if the proper physical conditions were present, it is also true that happy mutual action of all the mental and nervous forces at this time will, and often does, overcome almost insuperable obsta cles to maternity.
I am sure that with many chaste, affectionate, and lovely women, who are well constituted, not only the dread of motherhood, but the erroneous thought, as dishonoring to God as to her womanhood, that there is something not pure in the simple, natural consum mation of marriage, has destroyed much domestic happiness.
It has not only defrauded them of much wifely magnetic power, but the unconscious restraint over themselves has prevented not a little of the pure happiness it was designed they should give and re ceive; nor can they give, under such a state of feel ing, to their children, the physical, intellectual, or spiritual strength which they should.
A state of sexual apathy or repulsion on the part of the wife towards her husband is unquestionably the source of disordered nervous conditions and of uterine disease which may, and often does, become organic and incurable.
The early indulgence of solitary vice in girlhood, not overcome before marriage, is a cause of indiffer ence of the wife towards her husband, and of sterility sometimes persistent and hard to overcome, and no feeling should be more deplored or more sedulously set aside than this barrier to the fullest union in marriage.