8 Ways STDs Were Treated Before Modern Medicine
Getting an STD today is by no means a walk in the park, but many STDs have become curable, and those who contract them face social stigma over serious physical repercussions.
But do you know how they treated STDs before modern medicine? Hint: you don’t want to.
Well, maybe you do. We scoured the internet for some of the craziest “cures” for STDs from back in the day. And if this isn’t going to inspire you to get tested, we don’t know what will.
1. With a Good Ol’ Dose of Mercury
In the 18th and 19th centuries, the “treatment” for venereal diseases included mercury, arsenic, and sulphur, according to News-Medical. Naturally, this resulted in serious side effects and death for most people, which leads us to wonder if the “doctors” just hoped to get rid of venereal diseases by killing people off?
Mercury shots were very popular in the Lewis and Clark expedition in attempts to get rid of diseases, and recent studies about Tycho Brahe’s death show high doses of mercury which are believed to have been from STD treatments. Interesting…
2. Banning Kissing Altogether
Fuck your PDA, said Ancient Greek ruler Tiberius, who had to deal with the outbreak of the Herpes virus (named for the Greek word for “to creep or crawl”).
Tiberius banned kissing at all public places, according to Ezine. This obviously didn’t help to stop the spread of the disease or keep the people happy, which leads us to the next Greek ruler’s method.
3. Burning Those Little Herpes Shits Right Off
Tiberius’ successor put a more intense method into place: burning off the sores with a hot iron, according to Ezine. I think we’ll happily take the Herpes sore instead of burning our fucking faces off, thanks.
4. Surgically Remove Them
The above two bullet points discuss oral Herpes, but genital Herpes had their own special cure. The Ancient Greeks called them ficus, or “figs” for short, and they surgically removed them, according to this paper.
5. Kicking Those Fuckers Out
Naturally, women were punished harsher for contracting STDs than men. In the time of Moses, Gonorrhea was allegedly widespread.
If a man found his wife with the disease, he could divorce her. He could also banish her from the city, as many people with Gonorrhea were banished completely, according to this source.
6. Prohibiting Mixed Bathing & Shutting Down Brothels
Shockingly, Henry VIII attempted to close down the brothels and communal bathhouses of London to oust Syphilis, which was rapidly spreading across the UK in a strain that was much more intense than what we have today. Henry also imparted “harsh” restrictions on prostitutes which forced them out of work if they had the disease, according to JMVH.
Doctors had not yet attempted to find a cure for Syphilis, because many believed that it was a “punishment for sin” and should either be treated harshly or not treated at all. Classic.
7. Sweat It Out
There are many people who believe you can sweat out a flu or a cold, but Syphilis? Probs not.
Regardless, this is how they did it in the sixteenth century, as they believed that sweating could rid the body of Syphilis symptoms, according to JMVH. This was used in conjunction with Mercury, always a good time.
8. The Slap Down Method
One word: Ouch.
This may be an old wives’ tale or speculation, but many people claim that the nickname “The Clap” came from an old treatment that involved clapping the penis either between two hands or between a book and a table. This was done so that the infected discharge would hopefully leave the penis for good. It obviously didn’t, so if this method was ever actually employed, hopefully they stopped sooner rather than later.