Whatever Dr. Young had in mind when he made these apparatuses, he wrote that gradually widening the anus with his devices were just what America needed. Apparently, a lot of Americans suffered. These dilators were found in The New England Journal of Medicine showing their intended purpose. But I have heard that some people slide objects into their or their sexual partner’s rectum for fun. Oh, no! I’m not making this up!
Maybe the bulge on the business end of the dilator just gives the sphincter something to grab on to, a practical use. The bulging end has a hole in it; I guess so that air is allowed to escape.
Dr. Young’s Dilators were sold in the USA from the late-19th century until 1940. They were a set of four torpedolike hard-rubber friendly instruments varying in diameter and length.
Dr. Young himself praised rectal dilation as a cure for insanity, claiming that:
… 3/4 of all the howling maniacs of the world are curable in a few weeks’ time by the application of orificial method’s.
Dr. Young also admitted that some patients panicked at the sight of the devices.
He also claimed they corrected: constipation, promoted more refreshing sleep, and could relieve bad breath, bad taste in the mouth, sallow skin, acne, anemia, lassitude, mental hebetude, insomnia, anorexia, headaches, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, flatulence, indigestion, nervousness, irritability, cold extremities, and other ailments. The instructions warned:
Do not neglect to use your Dilators. It is advisable to use them occasionally as a precautionary measure. You need have no fear of using them too much.
A 1905 advertisement promised:
The best results may be obtained by the use of Young’s self-retaining rectal dilators, the use of which accomplishes for the invalid just what nature does daily for the healthy individual
Dr. Young advised other doctors:
If you will prescribe a set of these dilators in some of your obstinate cases of Chronic Constipation you will find them necessary in every case of this kind.
The price of a set ”to the profession” was $2.50 (about $70 in 2019 dollars).
You kids know that products are not always used for what they’re advertised to do. Whatever the real purpose of these items, on the inside bottom of the box, Dr. Young offered even bigger models. Number Five, for $1.50 with postage, was perfect for those customers who had mastered One through Four. I like that Dr. Young’s valuable 64-page book was offered free with the dilators…” 64-pages on rectal dilation!
In 1938, the new Federal Food, Drugs and Cosmetics Act oversaw the sale of medical devices, and it didn’t take long for the Dr. Young’s dilators to end up in courts. In 1940, a shipment of the dilators and their lubricant, ”Piloment”, was seized and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York filed suit against them, alleging that they were misbranded.
The court hearing found that ”… it would be dangerous to health when used with the frequency and duration prescribed, recommended, or suggested in the following labeling”. The shipment was destroyed. Such a waste. Talk about government over-reach.