Is it better to wear boxers

Sperm quality: boxer shorts or, better, briefs - which underpants should a man ideally wear?

Do boxer shorts protect fertility?

There have long been discussions among men about what type of underwear should be worn. A key argument in this discussion is the effect of underwear worn on fertility. Researchers are now looking into what underwear to wear to help produce healthy sperm.

Scientists at Harvard TC Chan School of Public Health tried to find out in their latest study what kind of underwear men should wear to ensure the production of healthy sperm. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Human Reproduction".

Underwear shouldn't limit fertility

What is important when choosing underwear for men? Is it about which underwear is most comfortable or which underwear looks best? Doctors say that men should pay particular attention to their underwear so that it does not restrict or reduce fertility. For a long time it was said on this topic that so-called boxer shorts are much healthier for the testicles and the production of healthy sperm. But does this statement also correspond to the facts?

Close-fitting underwear is harmful to fertility

Medical researchers at Harvard TC Chan School of Public Health found in their investigation that tight-fitting underwear is indeed associated with decreased sperm concentrations and can lead to lower blood levels of the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).

Researchers find compensation mechanism

A key strength of the study is that it explored the possible relationship between the type of underwear worn and indicators of testicular function, such as reproductive hormone levels and DNA damage, which all previous studies on the subject ignored, explains study author Dr . Lidia Minguez-Alarcon from Harvard TC Chan School of Public Health. The doctors were also able to find a potential compensation mechanism in which a reduced sperm production in connection with the type of underwear signals the hypothalamus to increase the secretion of gonadotropin (hormones acting on the testicles) in order to increase sperm production.

656 men took part in the study

The study analyzed 1,186 sperm samples from 656 different men who wanted to undergo fertility treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital between 2000 and 2017. These participants were also given a blood test so that doctors could check the levels of FSH, estradiol (a form of estrogen), and luteinizing hormone (a hormone used in reproductive cell development). The experts found that the men who wore boxer shorts (53 percent of the participants) had higher sperm concentrations (plus 25 percent), higher sperm counts (plus 25 percent) and lower FSH levels (minus 14 percent). Factors that could affect the sperm, such as age, BMI, smoking, and the time between sampling and last ejaculation, were also considered by the scientists.

What were the limitations of the study?

However, the results of the investigation could be affected by the fact that 67 percent of participants only submitted one sample. In addition, the quality of the sperm also changes with the daily rhythm, explain the authors of the study. The so-called circadian variation can affect hormone production just as much as a hot bath, say the researchers. The scientists tried to take these factors into account as much as possible in their study.

More research is needed

Hopefully, future studies will examine the molecular mechanism of hormone level changes and damage to the testicles from underwear, emphasizes Dr. Lidia Minguez-Alarcon. In this way it can be determined whether there are any clear (risk) patterns. (as)

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Important NOTE:
This article is for general guidance only and is not intended to be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. He can not substitute a visit at the doctor.