Spermatorrhea, defined as "excessive" ejaculation, was regarded in the nineteenth century as a medical disorder with corrupting and devastating effects on the mind and body. The cure for spermatorrhea was regarded as enforced chastity and avoidance of masturbation, with circumcision sometimes being used as a "treatment" for this imagined condition.

Ejaculation is now known to be self-limiting, and incapable of causing ill effects (other than temporary tiredness and reduction of sexual desire in the individual concerned). Spermatorrhea is now regarded as a social construct with no basis in medical fact, and an example of a moral panic.

"The percentage of neurasthenia of sexual origin is so large that it is always well in the presence of this anomaly to look for sex as a fruitful cause. _There is an intimate relation between the genitals and the head_... The two perversions, masturbation and onanism (congressus interruptus of Onan) are oftener the cause of the general breakdown than excesses in normal sex life. Of these two, masturbation is the more dangerous because its practice usually begins in the immature child, and if indulged in to excess, leads to fatigue and exhaustion of the central nervous system."

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