Speaking to the sexism of the times, “hysteria” was first thought to be an affliction sourced in the womb, and therefore one that only affected women. In the 15th century, a physician or midwife was instructed to massage a woman to orgasm to cure her anxiety, insomnia, irrationality or nervousness. The treatment was recommended for widows and those who lived “chaste lives.” Doctors at the time didn’t think women could possibly have orgasms, however, so they called the climaxes “paroxysms.”
By the 1800s, doctors were still performing the pelvic massages, but complained of sore and fatigued hands. Thus, mechanical vibrators were invented. (Apparently, even bizarre ideas can lead to useful discoveries).