“Great Balls Of Fire!”

There was an interesting article in The Times (what would I do without it) last week about a study released by the American Academy of Pediatrics which suggests that boys are entering puberty earlier than they did just a few decades ago.  There is no clear explanation for this although the study did mention as possible causes, changes in diet, less physical activity and other environmental factors.

What I found fascinating in the article is a statement by a pediatrician lauding the study for using the “gold standard” of assessing the onset of puberty: the size of a boys testicles.  That really threw me for a loop.  This isn’t a benchmark I ever would have considered, either as a young man or now, as a not so young man.  I alway thought puberty was reckoned by when you needed a shave or maybe the evidence of pubic hair. (Hard not to think of Clarence Thomas as I write that.) But ball size…who would have thunk it!

If you’re not wondering how physicians take the measurements of testicles, you should be.  As to that wonderment, you will be glad to know that there’s an instrument used for measuring the size(s)–it’s called a orchidometer.  (The name of a device that might be better used for measuring the speed of a hot-house flower, I think.)  What a pleasant term for a tool used for what I consider a fairly unpleasant task. You’d think that with a name like “orchidometer”, there’d be some really snazzy high-tech device hooked up to an Apple MacBook Air.  But no…it’s a string of oval wooden or plastic beads of increasing size that are used as a comparison with the size of the testicles.  I believe the wooden ones are the choice of the traditionalists in the field and can usually be found at a well-stocked Restoration Hardware.

As I continued reading the article, I started to wonder what the purpose or consequence of the study is.  It’s not that I’m anti-science; quite the opposite, in fact.  And particularly when it comes to the genital area.  But I’m a little lost about the application of this new-found data.  One of the researchers advises that, “If kids are looking older, it means that parents should be monitoring them, because the superego doesn’t kick in until later.”  Meaning if your son looks like he needs a shave, pay closer attention to him?  Or more likely, if he indeed does look like he needs a shave, before you begin to be overly surveillant of  his activity, get out the family orchidometer and explain to him what you’re about to do.  You’ll let me know how that works out. 

An Example Of Digit Malformation Caused By Too Much Inbreeding


You Thought I Was Kidding?


4 Responses to ““Great Balls Of Fire!””

  1. Arbee Says:

    I guess I still have a lot of the adolescent in me. Today’s blog allowed me to start my day with a nice laugh. Who knew that it was ball size we men had to be concerned about all these years and not the size of that other thing. Not that it really matters that much anymore. There’s not all that much of the adolescent left.

  2. Arbee Says:

    Oh nuts!


    you can delete me,Roselind Schwartz-ros22@aol.com
    Find too long winded for me. Now residing in a senior residence

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