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.