A pewter syringe for urethral injections to treat venereal disease.
This small pocket sized syringe would have been used to treat syphilis and gonorrhoea by the application of urethral injections. These were of three types, sedative, emollient and astringent. Sedative composed of Opium or Liq. Plumbi, gave relief from irritation but were ineffective as a cure. Emolients too were effective for symptom relief. One regime suggests:
Preliminary injections of salad oil thrown into the urethra from the beginning and several times a day to lubricate and relax the inflamed parts prior to astringent injection.
Astringents such as white vitreol (vitriolated zinc sulphate) or copper sulphate or silver nitrate were favoured, but the stronger astringents were associated with irritation and strictures. Mercurial compounds were also used to treat syphilis but these would have been administered through a glass syringe rather than pewter one which would react with the mercury.
- From the Phisick collection