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Small testicles equal big parenting skills? Just maybe

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
What makes a dad a good one? Is it testicle size, suggested by a new study?

What does the size of a man’s testicles have to do with his parenting skills? Researchers from Emory University have found out men with small testicles stay more involved with their children.

The impetus for the study was to find out why some fathers absent themselves from child-rearing – or perhaps in other words, they wanted to know what is behind those ‘dead beat dads’.

The premise is that the male species is either interested in procreating or protecting and rearing their children, but what drives that?

The authors wrote: "Despite the well-documented benefits afforded the children of invested fathers in modern Western societies, some fathers choose not to invest in their children. Why do some men make this choice?"

For their study, published in the journal PNAS, researchers recruited 70 local fathers ages 21 to 43 via Facebook ads and local fliers.

The men all had children 1 to 2 years old.

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James Rilling who led the study and colleagues scanned 55 of the men’s testicles with MRI – those who consented.

They also used MRI to monitor an area of the brain associated with parental motivation.

The finding showed "Fathers' testicular volume and testosterone levels were inversely related to parental investment and testes volume was inversely correlated with nurturing-related brain activity when viewing pictures of their own child," the authors wrote.

But before we jump to conclusions, is it really true that women should stay away from men with large testes?

Probably not, and for several reasons:

1. Testicles don’t produce testosterone so size doesn’t matter if you’re worried about your man’s stay-at-home ability
2. Some dads can’t stay involved with their child’s activities from long work hours, for instance.
3. A man’s testicle size really won’t tell you if a man is going to be a good father, given the many variables involved with parenting and modern day life.

The finding suggests men whose testes are smaller may be more nurturing toward their children. But before you use size as a yardstick for choosing a mater, it may be best to wait for more studies.