Just how much does size matter? Till date, there is no evidence that the length of a penis directly affects fertility. But a new study has suggested that men with smaller penises may be more prone to fertility problems compared to the others.
Researchers tracked more than 800 men who visited a sexual health clinic over a period of three years. On average, the penises of men who were infertile were around a third of an inch shorter than those of men who were fertile. Fertile men had an average length of 5.27 inches, with the infertile at 4.92 inches.
“It may not be a striking difference but there was a clear statistical significance,” said lead researcher Dr. Austen Slade of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.
However, Slade was quick to assure that men with shorter penises do not need to worry about fertility for now. “It remains to be determined if there are different penile length cut-offs that would predict more severe infertility,” he said.
Sheena Lewis, a professor at Queen’s University in Belfast, was among the experts who criticized the research given that the findings are still premature.
“One thing that scares men is that size matters,” she said. “To now say they have a smaller chance of becoming a father is not a good message.”
This is not the first study to look for a correlation between genital size and fertility. Over recent years, research has examined the role of anogenital distance or AGD, which is the distance from the midpoint of the anus to the genitalia.
According to a 2011 study, men whose AGD is lower than the median length — estimated to be around 2 inches (52 mm) — have seven times more likely to be sub-fertile than those with a longer AGD.
“If somebody’s got a short AGD, particularly if they have problems conceiving, I would say get to the infertility doctor because the chances are good that something is wrong,” co-author Shanna Swan stated in 2011. It is important to note that AGD measurements are not only influenced by the length of the penis but also other factors like body size.
In a report released in 2017, data suggested that fertility levels in western men have nearly halved over the past four decades. Considered to be a rather significant drop, experts are unsure as to what exactly is driving this decline.
If one were to consider the factor of size again, it has been said that mothers exposed to more phthalates have a higher likelihood of having a child with reduced AGD measurements. As you may know, phthalates are the chemicals used in everyday products from cosmetics to food packaging to household cleaners.
It is certainly possible that the rising rates of obesity, the increased use of phthalates, and other factors like smoking may all play a combined role in the rising rates of male infertility.