In the 21st century for the sexually unfulfilled women, there are a variety of options and solutions.

A plethora of sex toys are available for purchase—most commonly, the vibrator. Today, the latest cell phone has enough vibration to get the job done.

These BOB’s (Battery Operated Boyfriends) have become so common, you can now get your buzz on in Japan at the Vibrator bar.

However, in the late 19th century, women didn’t have these luxuries. Women were commonly diagnosed with what was called “hysteria” – womb disease.

 And what were the symptoms of this man made disease you ask?

  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Mild Depression
  • Sleeplessness
  • Nervousness
  • Erotic Fantasies
  • Sensations of heaviness in the abdomen

You might be wondering what the prescription was to treat such conditions over the centuries. The prescription was a manual “pelvic massage” primarily done by a male doctor.

 Have a seat ma’am the doctor will be right with you.”


The pelvic massage meant to cause “hysterical paroxysm” in the patient (translation: orgasm) to provide temporary relief to the above conditions.

Female patients were routinely massaged to orgasm from the time of Hippocrates until the 1920’s.

This may be the only time in history where orgasmic release was a service provided by male doctors to women for a price.

According to Rachel Maine author of the “Technology of Orgasm” it was a job that nobody wanted.

“There is no evidence that male physicians enjoyed providing pelvic massage treatments.

On the contrary, this male elite sought every opportunity to substitute other devices for their fingers, such as attentions of a husband, the hands of a midwife, or the business end of some tireless and impersonal mechanism.”

The doctors providing these services claimed it was boring, tedious, time – consuming and physically hard work. They were looking for devices to be used as substitute or replacement for their fingers.

Vibrators To The Rescue

Large, mechanized vibrators were developed for use in doctors’ offices, but they were often expensive, furniture-sized devices.

In 1734 one of the first vibrators was invented in France. It was called the ‘Tremoussoir.’


In 1869 came the steam-powered, coal-fired vibrator called the “Manipulator“. Invented by American physician George Taylor, M.D.

The Steam Powered vibrator

This machine was a rather awkward device, but still provided some relief for the doctors who found themselves suffering from fatigued hands and wrists.

Around 1880, Dr. Joseph Mortimer Granville patented an electromechanical vibrator. The film Hysteria features a reworked history of the vibrator focusing on Dr. Granville’s invention.

ConfidentLover Electrical Vibrator

In 1902, the American company Hamilton Beach patented the first electric home-use vibrator making it the fifth electrical appliance approved for domestic use.

  • Sewing machine
  • Fan
  • Tea Kettle
  • Toaster
  • Vibrator

By 1917 there were more vibrators in American homes than toasters. The vibrator became a personal instrument for self-treatment.

This ad was published in the New York Times in 1913

ConfidentLover Electric_Vibrator_ad_NYT_1913

Here are the highlights of the Ad:

  • It is not necessary to have electricity in your home to use a vibrator.
  • Power from Within. Strength that is more than mere muscle strength. The strength of perfect health and abundant nerve force.
  • Vibration promotes life and vigor, strength and beauty…Vibrate Your Body and Make It Well. You Have No Right to Be Sick.
  • The secret of the ages has been discovered in Vibration.
  • For Women Wrinkles go – also other disfigurations.
  • If you have too much flesh, vibration will reduce it.
  • Sagging muscles in the face tell more powerfully than anything else the story of age.

 If you find yourself in San Francisco be sure to stop by The Antique Vibrator Museum.

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