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Mercury douche for urethral therapy, Paris, France, 1840-1895

This mercury douche was used to treat venereal disease (VD) during the 1800s. VD is now known as STIs (sexually transmitted infections). The douche was made by French instrument maker A. Aubrey. It comes with different-sized attachments used to inject mercury into the penis or vagina. This was called urethral therapy because the medication was inserted through the urethra, the small tube carrying urine from the bladder to the reproductive organs. Mercury was often used to treat syphilis and other venereal diseases. Prolonged exposure to mercury can cause severe damage to the brain and other major organs.

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Glossary: genito-urinary medicine

The branch of medicine dealing with the genital and urinary organs.

Glossary: sexually transmitted infection

Any disease transmitted by sexual intercourse. STIs include HIV/AIDS, syphilis, gonorrhoea, some chlamydia infections and genital herpes.

Glossary: douche

Container for sterile fluid used to administer a douche. Term is often applied to the whole douching apparatus, including tubing and, nozzles