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Impotence And Sterility

In the male, impotence may arise from physical or mental causes. The

physical causes may be--too great or too tender an age; malformation of

the genital organs; crypsorchides, defect or disease in the testicles;

constitutional disease (diabetes, neurasthenia, etc.); or debility from

acute disease, as mumps. Masturbation, and early and excessive sexual

indulgence, are also causes. The mental causes include--passion,

dity, apprehension, aversion, and disgust. The case will be

remembered of the man who was impotent unless the lady were attired in a

black silk dress and high-heeled French kid boots.

If a man is impotent when he marries, the marriage may be set aside on

the ground that it had never been consummated. The law requires that the

impotency should have existed ab initio--that is, before

marriage--and should be of a permanent or incurable nature; marriage,

as far as the law goes, being regarded as a contract in which it is

presupposed that both the contracting parties are capable of fulfilling

all the objects of marriage. In the case of the Earl of Essex the

defendant admitted the charge as regards the Countess, but pleaded that

he was not impotent with others, as many of her waiting-maids could

testify. When a man becomes impotent after marriage, his wife must

accept the situation, and has no redress. A man may be sterile without

being impotent, but the law will not take cognizance of that. The wife

may be practically impotent, but the law will not assist the husband. He

must continue to do his best under difficult circumstances. In former

times in case of doubt a husband was permitted to demonstrate his

competency in open court, but this custom is no longer regarded with

favour by the judges.

The removal of the testicles does not of necessity render a man

impotent, although it deprives him of his procreative power. Eunuchs are

capable of affording illicit pleasure, whilst the male sopranos, or

castrati, are often utilized for that purpose.

In the female, impotence may be caused by the narrowness of the vagina,

adhesion of the vulva, absence of vagina, imperforate hymen, and tumours

of the vagina.

Sterility in women may occur from the above-named causes of impotence,

together with absence of the uterus and ovaries, or from great debility,

syphilis, constant amenorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea, or menorrhagia.