STERILITY or barrenness means the inability to procreate children. It is independent from the ability of having normal sexual intercourse. This fact distinguishes sterility from impotence, characterized by the inability of sexual intercourse.
Probably one-third of the sterility of married women is due to the sterility of the husband (* This subject will be dealt with in a special booklet on Diseases of the Male Genital Organs.*)
The following statement deals only with the sterility of women, caused by either general or local disorders of the female organs.
Sterility may be absolute or relative.
In case of an absolute sterility pregnancy can never occur. The cause of this condition can either be innate or acquired, due to a local defect of the genital organs, or to general ill-health.
Regarding local congenital defects I mention first of all congenital malformations or deficiencies. There are cases, characterized by absence or malformation of the womb or of the ovaries; in other cases, again, there is malformation or partial or even complete absence of the vagina, or the vagina may be closed up by an imperforated hymen. In other cases, again, sterility is due to congenital tumours or hypertrophies of the genital organs, or to displacements of the womb.
The acquired defects are most commonly the results of inflammation. For instance Perimetritis (inflammation of the peritoneal coat of the womb) may encapsule the ovaries, preventing the escape of ova, or it may cause changes on the surface of the ovaries, interfering with the proper development of the Graafian follicles, it may even lead to the shutting up of the Fallopian tubes. Sepsis or gonorrhoea are the most frequent causes of these condition. Venereal disease play a great part in the causation of sterility. I am certainly not exaggerating by stating it to be at least the cause in 50 per cent. of all cases.
Gonorrhoea is specially responsible for the chronic inflammation of the mucous membrane of the womb (Endometritis) resulting in sterility.
Regarding functional causes I mention in the first place cases of incompatibility. For reasons unknown to us there seems to be am incompatibility between some men and women. That is the only way to explain the well-known fact, that a marriage may remain sterile, when the same woman or man has had children in other marriages before or afterwards. A classical example is the case of Napoleon and the Empress Josephine.
Absence of sexual feeling during the intercourse may in some cases be the cause of sterility, though the relation of the sexual orgasm in women to pregnancy is still a matter of debate. It is certainly true, that women entirely unconscious of any sexual feelings have children. We will under stand this fact by considering the mechanism during the intercourse. Contractions of the womb followed by relaxation undoubtedly draw up the semen into the womb, but the spermatozoa by their own motive power are quite capable of finding their way into the womb and Fallopian tubes. On the other hand there are cases in which pregnancy has only occurred when sexual feelings have been excited.
REGARDING relative STERILITY.
In the first place there are cases, where the woman may conceive, but be unable to produce a living child. There is a conception combined with a tendency to a miscarriage or abortion.
Another form of relative sterility is the so-called “one child sterility”. Here the woman has produced one sterility is often due to damage of the genital organs during the confinement.
The factors influencing sterility are numerous. The female members of some families are able only to produce one or two children, whilst the reverse’s happening in other families.
Another important factor is age.
The best age for pregnancy is from 20-35. Before and after this period there is a smaller chance of producing children, but in some countries the lower limit of 17 to 20 is usual.
Corpulence is another condition leading to relative sterility, the reason being the diminished function of the endocrine glands, resulting in obesity as well as in sterility. Chronic indulgence in alcoholics, drug taking poor state of health, mental or physical exhaustion are other causes for relative sterility.
The regular use of contraceptives in the early stages of married life has often been blamed for causing sterility. Certainly some contraceptives may harm the woman’s genital organs to such a degree that she may become sterile, but they are on the whole so composed as only to be temporarily effective in their purpose.
Successful treatment of sterility can only be achieved, it based on the most thorough examination of the patient. The whole constitution of the woman, her nervous system as well as the condition of her genital organs should be most exactly examined.
It goes without saying that in cases of sterility, due to absence or serious malformation of the womb or the ovaries no treatment whatsoever can be of any use.
In other cases of sterility, due to displacements or curable local pathological conditions of the genital organs, such as narrowing of the cervix inflammation of the womb, etc., the right treatment. No layman should try to treat such cases. I refrain, therefore, from discussing the multifarious methods of treatment and restrict myself to the statement, that treatment of sterility is a very grateful task for an experienced homoeopath, at least in a great number of cases. There are many cases, where the homoeopathic treatment has been and will always be a great success, even in cases, where other methods have failed.