Boxers or Briefs? It May Depend on Your Fertility Goals

Sperm count and concentration were higher in men who wore boxers versus tighter underwear styles.

Nicholas Bakalar
Image

Boxers or briefs? The choice could make a significant difference in a man’s fertility.

It is known that elevated temperature of the scrotum can adversely affect sperm production, but studies of the effect of underwear style have been small and produced inconsistent results.

For this study, online in Human Reproduction, researchers collected semen samples from 656 men in couples seeking fertility treatment. About half the men reported wearing boxers, the other half various styles of tighter underwear. The scientists assessed the samples for sperm motility, total sperm count and percent of sperm with normal morphology. They also did blood tests for testosterone and other hormones.

Compared with men who wore tight underwear, those who wore boxers had 25 percent higher sperm concentration, 17 percent higher sperm count and 33 percent higher moving sperm count. Differences in sperm shape and blood concentrations of most hormones were insignificant. The study controlled for age, race, body mass index, smoking, the use of hot baths and saunas, and other factors.

Should you be wearing boxers? “For most men, it won’t make any difference,” said the senior author, Dr. Jorge E. Chavarro, an associate professor of epidemiology at Harvard, “because most men are not trying to make anyone pregnant. But if you are, this is something you can try. Buying a couple of pairs of boxers is cheap and may actually help.”

Source