Men and Infertility in Late Medieval English Medicine
Social History of Medicine
Oxford University Press for Society for the Social History of Medicine
© The Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for the Social History of Medicine.
The history of male reproductive disorders in the Middle Ages has been comparatively neglected compared to the history of women’s medicine. This article explores the ways the subject was discussed in a sample of widely circulated medieval Latin medical texts and examines how this information was adapted in English translations and recipe collections aimed at a wider audience which included medical practitioners. It argues that the possibility of male infertility was often recognized in learned medicine and that the forms of male infertility discussed went beyond sexual dysfunction and were presented as more closely equivalent to female infertility. However, male reproductive disorders were not so prominent in less academic texts aimed at medical practitioners. These works did acknowledge the possibility of male infertility and their readers may have employed remedies for this in practice, but a greater emphasis was placed on women, a situation which may reflect wider social attitudes.
The basic research for this article was enabled by a grant from the International Placement Scheme of the AHRC, UK. I warmly thank Christoph Werner and Paolo Sartori for their generous advice, Chander Shekhar for teaching me to read the Persian of Indian legal documents, and the anonymous CSSH reviewers for their meticulous readings of an earlier version
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from the publisher via the DOI in this record.