Don’t Get Your Knickers in a Twist – Debunking the Boxers versus Briefs Debate
When a couple is looking to get pregnant much of the time, the focus and efforts on boosting fertility lies with the female partner – what she eats; how much exercise she gets; medications and supplements she should consider. But what about the men? Biology laws decree that pregnancy is team effort so shouldn’t the male partner pitch in too?
Nowadays, they do – doctors and nutritionists alike have published studies and research on how both parties can increase their pregnancy chances, whether it’s through natural means or through IVF, egg donation or some combination of assisted reproductive procedures, by adopting a fertility diet, exercise regime and/or certain medications or supplements.
However, in the case with the men, one other potential change that they could make when he and his partner and looking to get pregnant is the type of underwear he wears. The great boxers versus briefs debate has been a long and continuous one, with some scientists and doctors dismissing it as nothing more than an old wives’ tale, while others insist that it could have some merit regarding a man’s sperm count and health.
So what’s true? Well, a recent landmark study at Harvard University has yielded enough concrete evidence that might put this debate to rest once and for all. Over a 7-year period, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health recruited over 600 male partners who were one half of a couple seeking fertility treatments and found that loose boxers accounted for a higher sperm count and healthier sperm. Out of 656 participants who participated in the study, the 53% who wore boxer shorts had a 25% higher sperm concentration with 33% more swimming sperm in a single ejaculation.
So what makes briefs a culprit for lower sperm count and health? Well, the Harvard study found that briefs, also known colloquially as “tighty-whities” might just be that – too tight. The tighter the underwear, the warmer the area gets, which raises scrotal temperatures, which causes sperm count to drop. Previous studies have concluded that higher temperatures could affect the quality and quantity of sperm but until now were inconclusive on whether or not the type of underwear worn contributed to this.
While this study has provided much food for thought regarding fertility, it’s important to note that the study was conducted in a controlled environment using a selective group of participants – men who attended a fertility center and thus the results may differ slightly when it comes to the general population. Other factors including tight fitting jeans, body mass index, physical activity and how often hot baths were taken by the individual may also affect the quality and quantity of a man’s sperm.
In conclusion, if you and your partner are looking to get pregnant, consider your male partner’s sartorial habits, especially when it comes to underwear. It’s an easy change to make and if it improves testicular function, why not make the swap from briefs to boxers to increase your pregnancy chances?