Impotence vs. Infertility - What's the Difference?

Many people are confused when it comes to the topic of impotence vs. infertility.  Even those who experience one or the other may not be entirely clear about what the differences are between the two health conditions.

Impotence, or ED, is the lack of ability to achieve, and maintain, an erection long enough to achieve sexual satisfaction. Infertility is the lack of ability to achieve pregnancy, and can be a male or female issue.

Being impotent doesn’t mean you’re infertile (although it does make conception difficult); and infertility does not mean you’re impotent. However, both conditions can have a detrimental impact on your intimate relationships and self esteem. 

Even though the two conditions are not the same, they are related in that they are both highly emotional.  The emotional element causes stress, which can further aggravate both conditions.  Let's examine each to note the similarities and differences when it comes to impotence vs. infertility.


The inability to achieve and maintain an erection. 

Sexual arousal isn’t just physical; it’s a delicate combination of emotional as well as physical factors, and anything that throws the system out of balance will negatively affect arousal and performance:

● Stress causes a drop in testosterone, which affects the libido as well as the more mechanical ability to achieve and maintain an erection.

● Being in a long-term relationship may introduce a feeling of sameness or even boredom; this can lead to impotence.

● Health conditions such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, stroke, kidney disease and prolonged illness.

Emotionally based conditions such as alcoholism and depression often cause impotence.

● Smoking negatively affects circulation, which directly affects the ability to achieve and maintain an erection.


Low sperm count, fewer sperm with normal motility/morphology. 

Infertility can have a variety of causes: 

● Medicines such as chemotherapy can lower testosterone levels - other medicines for conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and kidney disease can also have negative effects on male fertility. Any drug that affects the central nervous system and hormones will affect fertility.

● Constant stress releases high levels of adrenaline, cortisol and other substances that cause hormonal imbalances, including an overproduction of prolactin, a hormone that hinders sperm production and motility.

● Excess weight, which may be due to unhealthy eating habits and/or stress, is a common cause of infertility.

● Smoking (both tobacco and marijuana) and heavy alcohol use can cause fertility issues.

● Injury to the groin area

● There may also be a genetic component involved

Impotence and Infertility Treatments Can Be Similar

Judging from the list of potential causes above, similar protocols can help treat both of these conditions.  Let's take a look at some of them:

● Stress management strategies including meditation, counseling and creating a balanced life can help significantly.

● The “Standard American Diet” or SAD, has been found to cause a great many health problems including infertility. This diet, which is skewed toward high consumption of sugar, unhealthy fat, and simple carbs, results in hormonal imbalances which negatively affect both fertility and sexual performance. A healthy diet based on whole foods and vegetables will improve health, balance hormonal levels and aid in restoring fertility.

● Exercise, both to stay lean, lower stress levels and boost testosterone levels.

● Quitting smoking and cutting back drastically on heavy marijuana and alcohol use can help prevent and treat hundreds of health conditions, including ED and infertility.

Aging is commonly associated with both impotence and infertility, but in many cases, lifestyle changes can alleviate the problem for older men, making it possible both to achieve pregnancy and sexual satisfaction well into the senior years.

If you have a problem with sexual dysfunction - either infertility or impotence - see your doctor. Both conditions are treatable with lifestyle changes as well as medical therapies.

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