Medieval Men were Diagnosed with Infertility, Prescribed Treatments

Men could be held responsible for the failure to produce children as far back as medieval times, a new study of medical and religious texts has shown. The analysis of popular medical and religious books by the University of Exeter shows that from the 13th century, widely-circulated medical texts recognized the possibility of male infertility, including sterility and "unsuitable seed." A urine test to determine if a husband or a wife was to blame for the absence of children in a marriage was even devised, and medical recipes drawn up as a treatment for men. It has been widely assumed that women in medieval England were blamed for childlessness and religious discourse about infertility focused on women. If men were deemed responsible for the failure of a couple to produce children, this was in cases of sexual dysfunction where it was obvious the man was unable to have intercourse. But Catherine Rider, a historian at the University of Exeter, found doctors of the period recognized that sexually-active men might not be able to conceive a child, and evidence that medieval medics were aware of this when treating childless couples. Rider found evidence that in 13th-15th century England male infertility […]

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