How To Increase Fertility: Men, Tight Underwear May Reduce Sperm Count; Wear Boxer Shorts Instead
Sperm cells (Photo Credits: Max Pixel)

From time immemorial, the debate about the best underwear for men has divided men into two camps: the ones who favour tight briefs and the others who love shorts. And it turns out that in the battle of the drawers, the best one won –shorts. That’s because men who wear tight-fitting briefs may have lower sperm count according to the largest study conducted on the topic. But this isn’t a new finding. Along with hot Jacuzzis, tight briefs have been implicated in lowered fertility in men for a long time. The earliest study around the topic was done in 1990, which supported the commonly held belief that the fit of men’s underwear did affect sperm production. Planning to get pregnant? Here are 8 foods that increase fertility.

What The Study Says

In the study led by Dr Lidia Minguez-Alarcón, researchers recruited 656 male partners of couples who were undergoing infertility treatment at the Massachusetts General Hospital between 2000 and 2017. The subjects were aged between 18 and 56 who had an average BMI of 26 and had not undergone vasectomies. The researchers took self-reported information on the type of underwear worn by the subjects through a take-home questionnaire. The semen samples of the men were analysed as per the WHO guidelines.

The study published in the journal Human Reproduction revealed that men who primarily wore boxers had a 25 percent higher sperm concentration, 17 percent higher total count, 33 percent more swimming sperm per ejaculate and 14 percent lower serum follicle stimulating hormone levels than men who did not wear boxers. In addition to this, the researchers noticed that the shape of the sperm in these men were much better. The greatest difference in sperm concentration was seen between the ones who wore boxer shorts and the men wearing jockeys or briefs.

Dr Mínguez-Alarcón opined that the study was successful in investigating the relationship between the underwear type and the testicular functions, which were missing in all the previous studies done on the topic. The researchers were able to find a potential compensatory mechanism of the hypothalamus, which increases the secretion of the hormone gonadotropin when the body detects a decrease in sperm production due to the type of underwear worn. The hormone then acts on the testes to increase levels of follicle stimulating hormone, which thereby leads to increased sperm production. Although, the hypothesis needs confirmation by further research.

Tight underwear decreases sperm count. (Photo Credits: Flickr, Zappy Technology Solutions)

Hot Temperature and Sperm Count

Dr Jorge Chavarro from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in Boston senior researcher of the study added that the men who wore tighter underpants had lower sperm count than the ones who wore boxers. He also added that the average sperm levels on average for these men were fairly normal. Dr Chavarro theorises that the higher temperatures caused by tight-fit underwear can affect the testicles’ sperm-producing function or spermatogenesis.

Researchers, however, also say that the findings of the studies cannot be generalised as the study focuses only on men attending the fertility centre. The researchers also said that other factors also affect scrotal heat: like type of trousers, underwear fabric, etc.