Scientists find startling new method for measuring male fertility

By David Ferguson
Thursday, May 12, 2011 9:40 EDT
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Scientists are suggesting that a man’s fertility may correlate to his “anogenital distance”, i.e., the span between his scrotum and his anus. A study from Baylor College of Medicine found that in animals, genital size and development are closely linked to anogenital distance and is shorter in males whose testicular development is abnormal.

Also, men with shorter anogenital distance produce semen with a lower concentration of sperm cells, lower quality sperm and lower overall sperm counts according to a study done by the University of Rochester, which was published in March in Environmental Health Perspectives.

The Baylor study examined 117 infertile and 56 fertile men and found that infertile men had significantly shorter anogenital spans and penis lengths.

Dr. Michael Eisenberg, a male reproductive specialist and the study’s lead author says that the results have two major implications. One is that doctors now have a non-invasive way to measure testicular function and reproductive potential in adult men. The other is that “gestational exposures and development may impact adult testicular function”, meaning that environmental factors when male babies are in the womb may ultimately affect their ability to reproduce.

Some physicians say that the results are too preliminary and the data too raw to draw any firm conclusions. Dr. Emily Elizabeth Kavaler, a urology specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City says the study is “not ready for prime time” and that researchers have “a long way to go” before these findings can be ratified as medical facts.

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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