Hygiene is Overrated II

In follow-up to my earlier post on bathing from last month:


it is interesting that, despite personal misgivings held by many in times past regarding the need for regular hygiene, the medical community was not entirely opposed to bathing for certain therapeutic indications. In the 16th and 17th centuries, for example, much was written about the benefits of taking to the waters for those women who were unsuccessful at conceiving and carrying a child to term.

The mechanism by which the waters supposedly exerted this effect was not clearly outlined, merely the wondrous (if not miraculous) outcomes to be had by engaging in therapeutic baths at just the right time.

A barren woman helped thusly, according to a 17th century English treatise on the benefits of bathing while procreating, was the wife of one Thomas Horton, esq., who “after seven years’ interval from having a child [concluded that as she was 42 years old,] she had done breeding.” However, she then fell from a horse and injured her leg, deciding afterward to visit the town of Bath for recuperation. No sooner did she take to the curative waters than she “went home and quickly conceiv’d … and had a son, who lived to be a proper [and] hopeful young gentleman.”

The same text went on to claim that Lady Killmurry, Countess of Huntington, at middle age had miscarried at least three times, but having taken therapeutic baths but one season, and that for only five weeks, “conceiv’d quickly with child, went out her full time, and became a mother of a living and lively son.”

No word on whether Mrs Horton or Lady Killmurry were happy to have had fertility restored at their respective ages or not.

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