tagReviews & EssaysPlaying Doctor

Playing Doctor


When I was a kid, about 9, I used to play "doctor" with my 11-year-old female cousin. This was in the very prudish early '50s, so we were quite secretive about it. She came into my office, the walk in closet and laid on a shelf that was waist high to me. She would pull her panties down to her ankles and expose her crotch for my examination.

Of course this exploration of a girl's private parts was exciting to me. I probably had a little erection that I was unaware of in my prepubescent innocence. I dutifully examined my patient, taking in all the sights and smells of the moment. I remember noticing the few coarse hairs that grew around this otherwise smooth crotch, and that the slit parted to reveal a deeper opening. After a while, I tired of this game and started to wander, but my cousin insisted that I examine her further.

I was unaware at the time that I was practicing medicine without a license, and therefore was unable to give my cousin the treatment she obviously desired. Had I studied medicine, especially the history of medical practice, I would have known how to treat my cousin's affliction.

A half-century before my inept probing in my cousin's crotch, real medical doctors had found effective treatment for hysteria in women. They knew by the symptoms, such as swelling in the genital area, sexual fantasies and excessive vaginal lubrication that treatment was necessary. The recommended treatment for these symptoms around 1900, was manual massage of the vulva by the physician, causing hysterical paroxysm, or a release of the aforementioned affliction. This treatment in the late 19th Century was quite popular among the women, and accounted for a significant amount of physician practice. I have to wonder though, how many physicians played this game without an erection.

As is the philosophy of Western medicine, if a hand can do a job, then a machine can do it better. By the early 20th Century, vulvar massage was being replaced by "electrotherapeutics," otherwise known as the vibrator. In 1904 a vibrator cost $200 and was sold only to doctors. With this innovation, hysterical paroxysms could be attained much more quickly and efficiently, at only $2 a pop.

Unfortunately, due to our young age, neither my cousin nor I knew what we were doing or exactly what we were trying to accomplish in our medical explorations, other than the touching in that area felt good to her. Years later, I learned various techniques to induce these "hysterical paroxysms" in women, with my hands, mouth and even that erection that I now knew about.

It seems however, that my sexual practice is paralleling medical practice once again, as a new device to increase sexual response in women has just gone on the market. Noting that the wonder drug Viagra works by increasing blood flow to the genital area of men, some medical genius invented a device to physically accomplish the same effect in women.

The device, called Eros, is approved by the FDA to treat "Female Sexual Dysfunction." It is a tiny vacuum with a soft suction cup that fits over the clitoris. You simply turn on the adjustable vacuum for a few minutes until the clit feels engorged. The ad states that in clinical trials, 80% of women who used Eros experienced more sexual satisfaction than before. Indeed!

It is such a simple straightforward concept that inventors all over the world are kicking themselves in the ass for not thinking of it first. Well, actually, although I didn't think of it, I was taught the concept of this device years ago by Peggy, one of my early sexual instructors. It seems I was down in her pubes flailing about with my tongue when she said in her soft, raspy voice "Suck it, Rob, suck it." The scientists are right, increasing the blood flow to a clitoris by suction does enhance sexual response in women.

Physicians who have studied the new clitoral vacuum are quick to point out that it is not a sex toy but a physiological device and it is available only by prescription. I'm sure that's what the doctors were calling the vibrator in 1904 that relieved so many Victorian tensions. (by 1918 Sears was selling vibrators for six bucks, which probably put a dent in the doctor visits, except for those women who preferred a professional touch).

However, I can't help but think that this new device, which costs more than $350, might be as sad a commentary on our sexual attitudes as the clinical inducement of paroxysms a century past. Why can't soft lips replace the soft suction cup of the vacuum device? Why can't the gentle suction of a lover draw blood to the clitoris as effectively as this mechanical sexual aid? Is it only for women who can't get their partner to attend to their physical needs?

Come to think of it, maybe this is the time for a career change. It seems to have been my calling from a very early age. With a roll of Saran Wrap and a little lube, I might be able to go into business like a 19th Century physician. I figure I can undersell the clit vacuum by 90% and still make a decent living.

(Honest officer, it's not prostitution, it's an organic physiologic procedure!)

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