Revealing the Hidden Affliction: How Much Infertility Was Due to Venereal Disease in England and Wales on the Eve of the Great War?
The Hidden Affliction: Sexually Transmitted Infections and Infertility in History
University of Rochester Press
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Szreter, S., & Schürer, K. (2019). Revealing the Hidden Affliction: How Much Infertility Was Due to Venereal Disease in England and Wales on the Eve of the Great War?. University of Rochester Press, The Hidden Affliction: Sexually Transmitted Infections and Infertility in History. [Book chapter]. https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.46950
By the turn of the twentieth century the British nation’s declining birthrate was increasingly the subject of anxious public and scientific debate, as the Registrar General’s annual reports continued to confirm a downward national trend, which had in fact commenced from the late 1870s. The secularist Malthusian League had positively promoted birth control, and now economists and eugenicists, feminists and Fabians, as well as leading figures in the church and in the medical profession, all agreed that this was a momentous matter. Previously, human fecundity—the capacity to conceive and reproduce—had not been considered a significant social variable. While the fertility of individuals or couples might be subject to some variation, with the odd exception populations and nations had dependably high fertility. Since Malthus—and even more so since Darwin’s generalization of Malthus’s proposition to all species—it was an accepted fact that nature was fecund to a fault. Fertility was too robust, not too frail. Consequently, one of the eternal human predicaments, both for the individual and for government, was how to rein in this exuberant fertility. So the dawning perception of the nation’s flagging and apparently fragile vitality—and indeed that of several other urbanizing nations, too—was a serious shock, expressed not just in politics but also science and literature.
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This record's DOI: https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.46950
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Licence URL: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
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