What causes Impotence?
This means inability to take a proper part in sex intercourse, and it does not at all necessarily imply sterility. Although conception is more likely when there is complete penetration, yet penetration is not essential; for spermatozoa are capable of achieving the whole journey from outside the vagina to the oviducts, so that an impotent man may become a father.
Congenital malformations of the penis, deformities due to certain diseases, injuries resulting from accidents or operation ; absence or destruction of the whole of both testicles; certain diseases of and injuries to parts of the nervous system- all these and other physical causes may render intercourse impossible, difficult or painful. Acute illnesses, chronic illnesses, glandular disorders, debility following illness and general ill-health, all have their effects upon virility. The taking of drugs and excessive indulgence in alcohol and tobacco may cause some degree of impotence; the cure in these self-induced conditions rests with the sufferer himself, with or without the assistance of a physician. Both in animals and in men, age usually lessens both desire and potency. In the forties or fifties, therefore, the average man must expect to find that the sex urge comes to him less frequently and less strongly. This should not be allowed to become a source of regret or of worry. So long as the general health is good, it is best to accept gracefully the lessening intensity of sex life.
Extreme fatigue, whether physical, mental or emotional, may cause partial or temporary impotence, which may take the form of lessened desire or of lessened capacity; but in such conditions, common sense indicates that intercourse should not be attempted. Intense mental concentration, even when it docs not entail any obvious exhaustion, may have similar effects. Impotence in its varying degrees of intensity is commoner among intellectual workers than it is among manual workers.
Besides these cases in which there exist causes providing a full explanation of the condition, there are others in which the causes are not so easy to discover. In these there is almost invariably something amiss with the mental attitude either to sex itself or else to the particular individual of the opposite sex concerned.
There is frequently something in the early environment of the individual which has colored his ideas of sex adversely. It may have been a single shock of some sort; but much more often it is the association of sex with ideas of sin and uncleanness. Closely allied to this mental attitude which has in it an element of distaste or disgust are states of mind in which there is present fear in some form or other- fear of venereal disease, fear of an unwanted pregnancy, fear of causing pain. Any of these may exert an inhibitory influence.
A very common sense of fear is to be found in the inaccurate idea that masturbation causes impotence. It is exceptional to -find an adult who has never masturbated, and it is thus quite obvious that masturbation does not cause impotence. Fear (even though quite unjustified) may do so.
Repressed homosexuality is not uncommon, and is, of course, usually quite unsuspected by the sufferer himself. Such a condition, although it may not prevent either desire or sexual capacity, will certainly lessen the attraction towards the opposite sex.
There remain the cases in which the attitude to sex itself is normal, but the attitude to the actual partner is not what it should be. A man may be impotent with one woman, but fully potent with another. The unsatisfactory attitude to the partner may be due to a variety of causes- the affections may be fixed upon some other individual, and this fact may be quite unappreciated; there may be lack of respect, sympathy or affection; there may be a feeling of inferiority.
The possible causes of impotence are numerous. In many cases the remedies suggest themselves; in others, medical advice is obviously indicated. Advice should never be sought, in any circumstances whatever, from unqualified people.
Except in those cases where specific medical advice is taken, it is a sound general rule to refrain from all attempts at intercourse for a period; and during that period to avoid sex stimulation in any form whatever. In cases of occasional failure due to nervousness, a glass of whiskey or a glass of beer may be sufficient to overcome the nervousness; but certainly nothing more than this is advisable - nothing in the nature of a strong dose of alcohol or of any other "pick-me-up," or of stimulating pills. Attention to the rules of general health is always to be recommended; and the mind should not be allowed to dwell upon the trouble. If the period of abstention ends more or less accidentally, so much the better; success on one occasion goes a long way towards bringing about a cure.