Study: Male Underwear May Be Hurting Sperm Count


Boxers or briefs? The age-old question that has been put to famous athletes, actors and even presidents over the years. And while it’s typically seen as a choice of aesthetics, one undergarment may be better than the other — or at least when it comes to a man’s sperm count, according to a recent study.

For all you brief wearers out there, it appears you need to loosen it up a bit down there. Researchers from the Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health have found that men who live a little freer by wearing boxers may have higher sperm counts — not to mention better quality sperm — than those who wear jockeys or tighter briefs.

The study, published in the medical journal Human Reproduction, surveyed 656 male partners of couples seeking infertility treatments at a fertility center in Massachusetts between 2000 and 2017. Though it’s been well-known that higher temperatures can hurt men’s sperm, it hasn’t been exactly clear whether undies were a culprit.

Simply put, tighty whiteys may just be that — too tight. The tighter the underwear, the hotter it gets, raising “scrotal temperatures” and making those sperm drop.

About half of the men who reported wearing boxers had roughly 17 percent higher sperm count than the men who wore tighter forms of underwear. They also had 25 percent higher sperm concentration (which is a more complicated measurement of sperm). But, without getting into too much science, it suffices to say, that sperm concentration appeared to be significantly impacted as well.

While the study says wearing briefs may impact sperm count, Dr. Serena H. Chen, a fertility specialist at Saint Barnabas Medical Center, said while the study does appear to show that wearing briefs can lower sperm counts, she said jockeys wearers out there can probably take a deep breath and relax.

She added the sperm count of the men who didn’t wear boxers still appeared to be in “normal” range for, say, being able to make a baby. Which, at least from a fertility specialist’s perspective, is the most important thing to worry about.

However, Dr. Chen did note, “Personally, I think boxers are cuter.”

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