Male Continence

Noyes prepared this pamphlet after 25 years of experience among the Oneida community, which employed the practice he called “Male Continence”. He stumbled upon the practice himself, after vowing not to put his wife through another agonising pregnancy. He includes practical tips.


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I conceived the idea that the sexual organs have a social function which is distinct from the propagative function….I experimented on this idea, and found that the self control which it requires is not difficult; also that my enjoyment was increased; also that my wife’s experience was very satisfactory, as it had never been before; also that we had escaped the horrors and the fear of involuntary propagation. This was a great deliverance. It made a happy household. I communicated my discovery to a friend. His experience and that of his household were the same. …

On the same principle we may account for the process of “cooling off” which takes place between lovers after marriage and often ends in indifference and disgust. Exhaustion and self-reproach make the eye evil not only toward the instruments of excess, but toward the person who tempts to it. In contrast with all this, lovers who use their sexual organs simply as the servants of their spiritual natures, abstaining from the propagative act except when procreation is intended, may enjoy the highest bliss of sexual fellowship for any length of time, without satiety or exhaustion; and thus marriage life may become permanently sweeter than courtship or even the honey-moon.


Is it natural?

The objection urged to this method is, that it is unnatural, and unauthorized by the example of other animals. I may answer that cooking, wearing clothes, living in houses, and almost everything else done by civilized man, is unnatural in the same sense, and that a close adherence to the example of the brutes would require us to forego speech and go on all fours! …If it is noble and beautiful for a betrothed lover to respect the law of marriage in the midst of the glories of courtship, it may be even more noble and beautiful for the wedded lover to respect the laws of health and propagation in the midst of the ecstasies of sexual union. …

It is not true that the seed is an excrement like the urine, that requires periodical and frequent discharge. Nature has provided other ways of disposing of it. In fact it…is in its best function while retained. ….

Noyes, John Humphrey. Male Continence. Office of Oneida Circular, 1872.