Who says size does not matter? It seems that, contrary to public perception, size really does matter, especially when it comes to fertility, as a new study suggests. Men who are infertile are also less well endowed. Having a shorter appendage was more common in men who were struggling to conceive, than in those with other genital health problems. The research, to be presented at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine Conference in Colorado, is the first to link penile length with fertility.

It found that on average, men who were infertile were around one centimeter shorter than their fertile counterparts. Those without reproductive issues had an average length of 13.4 centimeters, while those in the infertile group were 12.5 centimeters.

Dr Austen Slade, from the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, who led the study, said healthy men should not begin to fret over their size and their chance of becoming a father. He said underlying conditions that caused infertility, such as hormonal issues or problems in the testes, may also lead to a shorter penile length. ‘This is the first study to identify an association between shorter penile length and male infertility,’ he said. ‘It’s possibly a manifestation of congenital or genetic factors that predispose one to infertility. For now, men with shorter penises don’t need to worry about their fertility.

The study looked at data on 815 men visiting a health clinic between 2014 and 2017. There were 219 men seeking help for infertility, and 596 seeking help for other conditions such as erectile dysfunction and testicular pain. The men were all measured using a standard test called ‘stretched penile length’ which estimates the length of a penis when erect.

When they took into account weight, race and age, those being treated for infertility were just below one centimeter shorter than those who were fertile. ‘One centimeter may not be a striking difference but there was a clear statistical difference. It remains to be determined if there is a different penile- length-cut-off that would predict more severe infertility,’ Dr Slade added.

Previous research has shown that physical problems with male genitals can affect fertility. Men with a condition called Cryptorchidism – where the testes do not descend properly – have poorer sperm production. This is because the testes are located too close to the body, allowing the sperm to become too hot. Men with small testes have also been found to produce less sperm.

Professor Sheena Lewis, an expert in reproduction from Queen’s University Belfast, said the study raised more questions than it answered. ‘Doctors would not want to measure this in clinic, so as a study the findings are not really clinically usable. This is a very novel idea but the study does not tell us what a normal penile length is. It does not say if the shorter penis found in the study is abnormal. More research is needed.’

But take heart men with short penises, as more research can perhaps prove that the whole caboodle could  turn out to be a false alarm.

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