Doctors suggest sexual education as part of premarital counselling instead

It started as a hearing of a husband’s petition to quash an FIR that his wife had filed against him for domestic violence, in the Madurai Bench of the High Court. Justice N. Kirubakaran, listening to the arguments of the petitioner, veered to the question of “potency.” He deemed it fit to constitute a special sitting to decide whether premarital clinical examination for the bride and the groom should be made mandatory.

Naturally, there was outrage. Some termed the move to make potency a precondition for marriage “outrageous”; medical professionals disagreed on whether tests could prove “potency.” But some voices, mostly those of women who had filed for divorce on the grounds of impotency, rang out in favour of the test at the sitting in Madurai.

“This does not exist anywhere else in the world. It is bizarre,” says Vijay Nagaswami, psychiatrist and relationships consultant. “Potency is a legal construct, not medical or psychological. In fact, we consider it a perfectly odious terminology.” The key argument against the move seems to be medical: a semen analysis and Doppler study will be done. “But they cannot tell potency from this. And there is no test available to test the ‘frigidity’ of women.” Dr. Nagaswami adds that the majority of such issues are psychiatric in origin. A perfectly “potent” person could have issues in the bedroom; newly wed couples may be crippled by anxiety.

D. Narayana Reddy, sexologist, told The Hindu recently that tests under laboratory conditions may not yield accurate results, and issues such as erectile dysfunction could be temporary.

Also, technological progress has made effective intervention possible in most sexual problems. Instead of asking for potency tests, doctors suggest that proper sexual education should be made a part of premarital counselling.

Noted lawyer and BJP leader Vanathi Srinivasan says living with a person deemed “impotent” should be the choice of the individual. If the man or woman feels the marriage cannot continue for this reason, there are other remedies available under law, including divorce.