Urban legends versus Reality

In researching an essay, I came across a Francis Ford Coppola quote:

An essential element of art is risk. If you don’t take a risk then how are you going to make something really beautiful, that hasn’t been see before? I always like to say that cinema without risk is like having no sex and expecting to have a baby.

Which reminded me of a story I’d read years ago about how a couple was unable to conceive because they didn’t realize they had to have sex. Now an older, more skeptical reader, I checked whether it was an urban legend. Of course:

What had happened was that in 2003 the German medical journal Gynäkologische Endokrinologie had published an article about the importance of sexual history in the diagnosis of infertility, and someone took one of the case studies presented in that article and rewrote it in farcical form. The UK newspapers The Mirror and The Sun and other media outlets (such as UPI) picked up the farcical version and published it as straight news in May 2004, and the story was quickly spread throughout the Internet as a real-life example of the “too dumb to know about sex” legend.

But — if Snopes is to be trusted (I haven’t translated the referenced story) — the real story is more… interesting:

Doctors at the clinic proceeded to give the couple a routine workup but discovered no immediately apparent medical indicator of infertility. When someone at the clinic noticed that the couple had written a question mark next to a questionnaire item asking about their frequency of sexual intercourse, doctors began making inquiries of the couple regarding their sexual history. What doctors learned from their questioning was that the couple had never engaged in sexual intercourse — not because they were ignorant of sexual matters, but because the husband had suffered from erectile dysfunction throughout the length of their relationship.

Although the husband was reluctant to speak of the matter, the wife explained that she knew of no physical reason why her husband was unable to engage in sex with her; she had assumed the problem was a psychological one and had hoped that it would go away once they married, but it had not.

We can come up with stories as to why the gentleman is unable to perform with her, but it seems this couple abounds with sadness. Ah, lass.

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