What is an Orchidometer?

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  • Written By: Harriette Halepis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 August 2018
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The medical instrument known as an orchidometer is used to measure the volume of a testicular area. This instrument was first created by Dr. Andrea Prader of the University of Zurich in 1966. An orchidometer looks like a number of small beads laced together, which is why this tool is sometimes referred to as medical worry beads, Prader's balls, or endocrine rosary.

In order to measure the volume of the testicles of a patient, these beads are compared to the testicle area. The volume number on the bead that best matches the size of a testicle is then read. Prepubescent males are measured with balls ranging from sizes 1-3 ml (0.03 - 0.10 oz); pubertal males are measured with balls ranging from 4 ml (0.13 oz) and more; and adults are measured with balls ranging from 12-25 ml (0.40-0.84 oz).

Measuring the volume of testes is important, since irregular testes can determine certain illnesses such as testicular cancer. In addition, the presence of testicular growth can confirm that a boy is moving from adolescence into manhood. Also, overly large testes can indicate a form of retardation known as Fragile X Syndrome.


Orchidometers are used all over the globe on a regular basis. Frequently, this instrument is made from wood, though glass orchidometers also exist. While medical doctors use this device the most, an orchidometer can also be purchased for personal use. Certain medications may cause the testes to shrink or expand, and in this case an orchidometer is extremely useful.

Prior to the year 1966, doctors had no way of determining a child's testicular size. Thus, children that matured slowly were thought to be mentally handicapped. With the invention of the orchidometer, parents and doctors can now track a child's development accurately and precisely.

In addition to practical medical usage, the orchidometer has also allowed researchers to make some unique comparisons. Many researchers believe that boys around the globe mature at different rates according to geographical location. Through the use of an orchidometer, these researchers can compare boys from around the world to one another.

Though findings differ, most researchers agree that this medical tool is a useful one when it comes to studying different cultures. All boys should have their testicular area measured by a medical doctor from the time that they are born. This way, any abnormalities or changes within the testes can be noted.


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