Impotence vs Sterillity | Moorgate Andrology Clinic UK

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Impotence vs Sterility: What is the Difference?


Impotence and sterility are both problems that can affect a man’s sexual health and ability to have children but in different ways. Impotence, otherwise known as erectile dysfunction, refers to trouble getting or maintaining an erection. This can make it difficult or impossible to have intercourse. Sterility, also called infertility, refers to an inability to produce or release sperm. Here is a look at the two conditions, what causes them, and how they are treated.



Up to 30 million men across the globe experience erectile dysfunction. It becomes more common as you get older. The Cleveland Clinic reports that one in ten adult males end up with erectile dysfunction issues in the long term.


For a man to achieve a full erection, several different organs, including those within the nervous system, muscles, and blood vessels, need to work in a coordinated fashion. Men can have trouble getting an erection if any one of these systems are compromised. Some major causes for erectile dysfunction include:


  • Blood vessel or heart disease
  • Depression or other mood disorders
  • Stress
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Nerve damage
  • Peyronie’s disease
  • Obesity
  • Tobacco use
  • Alcohol or drug abuse


Erectile dysfunction can also be related to surgery or radiation to treat prostate cancer or treatments for an enlarged prostate. Erectile dysfunction can also be caused by emotional issues such as:


  • Stress 
  • Guilt
  • Anxiety
  • Low self esteem



If you have been trying to get your partner pregnant for at least a year without success, you may be dealing with infertility. The problem can stem from either partner, or both combined. About one third of the time, the issue is with the man only. A man’s infertility can be due to problems producing or releasing sperm. Some causes for infertility include:

  • Cancer treatments
  • Diabetes
  • Enlarged veins in the testicles
  • Exposure to pesticides
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Use of steroids
  • Genetic conditions like cystic fibrosis
  • Injury or surgery to the testicles
  • Mumps
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Retrograde ejaculation – when the sperm flows into the bladder instead of through the penis
  • Premature ejaculation
  • Undescended testicles
  • Vasectomy


The cause for infertility may be unclear. This is because men dealing with infertility often have other symptoms, such as problems with sexual function, reduced desire, swelling in the scrotum, and trouble ejaculating.

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