Other than participating in sexual intercourse, it was thought that women could position the uterus back into place with fumigation of both the face and genitals.Fumigating the body with special fragrances would supposedly place the uterus into its natural spot in the female body.Physicians thought that the stress associated with the typical female life at the time caused civilized women to be both more susceptible to nervous disorders and to develop faulty reproductive tracts.Rachel Maines hypothesized that doctors from the classical era up until the early 20th century commonly treated hysteria by masturbating female patients to orgasm (termed "hysterical paroxysm"), and that the inconvenience of this may have driven the early development of and the market for the vibrator.
Doctors and physicians could not connect symptoms to the disorder, causing it to decline rapidly.
Women considered to have it exhibited a wide array of symptoms, including faintness, nervousness, sexual desire, insomnia, fluid retention, heaviness in the abdomen, shortness of breath, irritability, loss of appetite for food or sex, and a "tendency to cause trouble".
In ancient Greece, it was described in the gynecological treatises of the Hippocratic Corpus, which dates back to the 5th and 4th centuries BC.
The American Psychiatric Association dropped the term hysteria in 1952.
Even though it was categorized as a disease, hysteria's symptoms were synonymous with normal functioning female sexuality.