Article ID: CBB178686098

Was Henry VIII Infertile? Miscarriages and Male Infertility in Tudor England (2021)


Although fertility has traditionally been viewed as the responsibility of women, recent studies suggest that reduced sperm function is a major cause of the recurrent pregnancy loss that affects 1 to 2 percent of couples. The reproductive and nutritional history of King Henry VIII indicates that 70 percent of the legitimate pregnancies attributed to Henry and his six wives resulted in miscarriage or stillbirth. By comparison, only 10 percent of the recorded pregnancies of the thirty-one noblemen closely associated with Henry had the same outcomes. Henry’s reproductive health likely contributed to the fertility problems for which his wives took the blame. The disregard of male infertility in Henry’s case may offer a clue to the reasons for the under-reporting of male reproductive health, then and now, to the detriment of both men and women.

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Authors & Contributors
Roth, Cassia
Demaitre, Luke E.
Park, Katharine
Rankin, Alisha
Long, Kathleen Perry
Read, Kirk D.
Social History of Medicine
Micrologus: Natura, Scienze e Società Medievali
New Books Network Podcast
Journal of Medical Biography
Zone Books
Science History Publications
D.S. Brewer
University of California Press
Pennsylvania State University Press
Reproductive medicine
Medicine and gender
Human body
Sterility; infertility
Women in medicine
Henry VIII, King of England
Westman, Axel
Maria, of Castile, Queen, consort of Alfonso V, King of Aragon
Charles d'Orléans
Alan Chartier
King Charles VI of France
United States
15th century
16th century
14th century
17th century
Early modern

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