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May 26, 1945


Author Affiliations


From the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Northwestern University Medical School, and the Gynecologic Service of Passavant Memorial Hospital.

JAMA. 1945;128(4):245-248. doi:10.1001/jama.1945.02860210001001

It is amazing that women tend to accept full responsibility for their failure to conceive, and it is equally inconsistent that communications on this problem are usually entitled "female sterility." The term female sterility implies that husbands are usually fertile, whereas in my own experience more than half of the husbands must either share or accept full responsibility for a childless union. A man cannot be absolved from responsibility for his wife's failure to become pregnant simply because his semen contains some actively motile spermatozoa; we must be more critical than that in our evaluation of seminal fluid.

To call these women sterility problems is inappropriate for other reasons. There are few individuals, either men or women, who can be considered absolutely fertile and, conversely, very few who are absolutely sterile. Human beings, at best, are only relatively fertile. Furthermore, there must be varying degrees of relative fertility even though

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