London, June 12 (IANS) More careful control of body weight in childhood and adolescence could help prevent male infertility later in life, says a new study.
The study, to be presented at ENDO 2022, indicates that children and adolescents with overweight or obesity, or those who have high levels of insulin or insulin resistance tend to have smaller testicles compared with their peers with normal weight and insulin levels.
“More careful control of body weight in childhood and adolescence may help to maintain testicular function later in life,” said lead researcher Rossella Cannarella from the University of Catania in Italy.
The prevalence of male infertility is increasing, and the average sperm count has been reduced by half in the past 40 years worldwide for no apparent reason, she said.
Testicular volume (a measure of testicle size) is directly related to sperm count. This means smaller testicles tend to produce less sperm.
“This evidence suggests a possible link between childhood obesity and the high prevalence of low testicular volume in youngsters,” she said.
To look for a possible link between low testicular volume and obesity, the researchers assessed testicular volume in 53 children and teens with overweight and 150 with obesity.
Their results were compared to 61 age-matched healthy peers. The boys and teens with normal weight had a significantly higher testicular volume compared to their peers with obesity or overweight.
The study also looked at the relationship between obesity-related metabolic abnormalities, such as insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia, on testicular volume.
“These findings help to explain the reason for the high prevalence of decreased testicular size in young men,” Cannarella said.