The distance between a man's scrotum and anus may indicate his ability to reproduce, report researchers from Baylor College of Medicine in the journal PLoS ONE.
"We have observed in animal studies that anogenital distance (the distance between the scrotum and anus) is an important measure for genital development and may be shorter in males with abnormal testicular development and function," said Dr. Michael Eisenberg, a male reproductive medicine and surgery fellow in the Scott Department of Urology at BCM and lead author on the study. "We initiated a clinical study to determine if the distance varied between infertile men and fertile adult men. If so, this could help us develop a novel method to evaluate patients with impaired reproductive potential."
Eisenberg and his research team measured the anogenital distance and penile length of 117 infertile men and 56 fertile men from an andrology clinic.
They found that the infertile men possessed a significantly shorter anogenital distance and penile length when compared with the fertile men, though they also note the need for further studies to compare anogenital distance measurement techniques and assess their accuracy and reproducibility.
"There are two main implications of this study -- first, this could represent a non-invasive way to test testicular function and reproductive potential in adult men and second, it suggests that gestational exposures and development may impact adult testicular function."
Others who contributed to the study include Dr. Larry Lipshultz, chief of male reproductive medicine and surgery and professor of urology; Dr. Rustin Chanc Walters, a clinical postdoctoral fellow of urology; and Dr. Ross Krasnow, a urology resident, all of BCM and Dr. Michael Hsieh, an assistant professor or urology from the Stanford University School of Medicine in Palo Alto, Calif.
- Michael L. Eisenberg, Michael H. Hsieh, Rustin Chanc Walters, Ross Krasnow, Larry I. Lipshultz. The Relationship between Anogenital Distance, Fatherhood, and Fertility in Adult Men. PLoS ONE, 2011; 6 (5): e18973 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0018973
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