5. SOME PHYSICAL PROBLEMS
Very few people enjoy perfect health throughout their lives. Most of us sooner or later find ourselves in need of medical attention, if only temporarily. Many of the serious diseases that plague and cripple mankind also have, of course, a damaging effect on the sexual abilities. Wounds and injuries can destroy the sex organs themselves or lead to the loss of control over parts or all of the body. Certain illnesses can affect a person's responses or weaken the body to a point where sexual intercourse becomes difficult or impossible. Usually in such cases, the sexual difficulties are only the by-product of a general infirmity and therefore receive only minor attention. With a full recovery, the sexual capacities are also restored. Even without a recovery the case is not necessarily hopeless. Many permanently disabled and chronically ill patients can now be helped to achieve satisfying sex lives in spite of their problems. (See "The Sexually Oppressed.")
There are, however, certain physical disorders and diseases that affect human sexual activity and procreation directly, and some of them, such as infertility and the venereal diseases, are quite common. Fortunately, many of these formerly hopeless conditions have become responsive to treatment. In some instances, a complete cure is achieved quickly and easily. Nevertheless, since at any given time millions of people all over the world are suffering from one or several of these conditions, every sexually mature person should know about them. The following pages provide some basic information about the main physical illnesses and impairments which can interfere with human sexual functioning. For the sexual difficulties of persons who are physically healthy, see "Sexual Maladjustment."