Some men like their underwear tight, while some like it loose. Still, others want to be in between the two. It is the age-old boxers vs. briefs debate that we have engaged in so heatedly over the years. But is there more to the discussion beyond it being just a matter of personal preference? There have been studies upon studies looking to determine whether the tightness or looseness of underwear bears any significant impact on men’s fertility, sperm quality and quantity, and more. You would think all the deliberations would have brought closure on the matter. Not so much. We are not too far from where it all started.
So, should men wear tight underwear? Various studies have pointed out that tight underwear could negatively affect sperm quality, quantity, and the suitability of loose underwear for men trying to conceive with their partner. The safest option is to wear the right size of underwear, which makes you comfortable.
Of all the reasons put forward to warn men against wearing tight underwear, the issue of men’s fertility seems to be the one that sparks emotions the most. Read the rest of the article to discover these and more details.
Impact on men’s fertility (sperm quality/quantity and more)
Though the scientific evidence on tight-fitting underwear is more or less mixed, the majority are based on the widespread belief that increased testicular temperatures may bring about a negative effect on sperm production. Tighter fitting underwear could result in higher testicular temperatures by pushing the testicles nearer to the body. Nevertheless, studies examining the impact of choice of underwear on the functioning of testicles have yielded inconsistent results.
A study conducted in 2018 by researchers at the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health and published in the Human Reproduction journal went ahead to reveal the link that exists between underwear choice and sperm quality as well as the mechanisms behind the link.
About 656 men submitted their semen and blood samples after which the team of researchers analyzed their sperm quality and quantity and also looked at DNA damage as well as hormone levels. The men gave details about their exercise, diets, other lifestyle variables, and the type of underwear they usually had on.
The team aimed to identify the correlation between underwear choice, sperm quantity, and quality, as well as other underlying hormonal disparities that might shed light on the connections.
The study revealed that men who wore loosely fitting underwear —boxer shorts to be specific— had 25 percent higher sperm concentration, 33 percent extra swimming sperm, and 17 percent more total sperm count in a single ejaculation more than those who wore tighter fitting underwear
The men who wore boxer shorts also exhibited better-shaped sperms, though this observation had no statistical significance. The team failed to find a link between different types of underwear and the DNA quality of sperm.
However, the researchers discovered that men who wore tighter underwear displayed higher levels of the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), which is responsible for the stimulation of sperm production.
Dr. Jorge Chavarro, who participated in the study, clarified that the outcomes of the study might not indicate a sufficient difference in fertility. He maintained that while men who wore tighter underwear had a lower average sperm count, it still fell under the healthy levels.
For good quality boxers we recommend Hanes Men’s Boxer (Amazon).
Some men could benefit from switching to loosely fitting underwear, but not all
Lidia Mínguez-Alarcó, the lead study author, noted that the results revealed a simple change that men trying to conceive with their partners could effect. Nevertheless, other experts said they would not authoritatively recommend that men switch to boxers.
For instance, Dr. Sarah Vij congratulated the researchers on the study but maintained that she was not sure whether the study alone would make her recommend for men to switch. According to her, there are other alternatives we can look into that have sufficient scientific data to back them up.
Dr. Michael Eisenberg, Stanford University School of Medicine’s director of male reproductive medicine and surgery, also chimed in. He said that if the 2018 study were to be consistently reproduced, then it ought to be taken seriously, and the outcome discussed with all patients.
Dr. Eisenberg had participated in an almost similar study back in 2016. After studying 500 men, they found that regardless of the type of underwear the men chose to go with, there was no significant change in the time it took couples to conceive.
According to Dr. Chavarro, men who already have a low sperm count are the ones most likely to benefit significantly from the switch.
Comfort is the number one priority
One of the best ways to settle this discussion is to get the fitting right. Make sure you get underwear of the right size, and you will undoubtedly be relieved of any unnecessary stress.
If you take a keen look into this issue, you will notice that no underwear is perfect. Going by the findings of various studies, tight underwear is likely to increase testicular temperatures, hence resulting in lower sperm count and chaffing. Loose underwear, on the other hand, will probably not offer you the support you need. It may fall a couple of times or cause you discomfort. The sweet spot is men’s underwear of the right size.
If you are not sure about the size of underwear that will fit you correctly, do not be embarrassed to ask the next time you visit your favorite store. There is always a professional to assist you with this kind of thing.
Precise measurements may require that you use a tape measure. Getting the right sized underwear is synonymous to investing. Ensure you do it right, and you can be sure it will serve you accordingly. But if you are too careless about it, you can expect the opposite. Remember to avoid cheap, mass-produced underwear. They are no good for you.
The significance of switching between tight and loose fitting underwear
But what if you could experience the best of both worlds? Switching between both types of underwear presents you with the opportunity to do so. For instance, you could choose to wear loose underwear at home when you want to get as much aeration as you can get.
You could even take it a notch higher by ditching the pants and remain with your underwear. Some experts recommend this style as a way to also spice up things in the bedroom because it will certainly get your partner excited.
If that sounds like too much for you, there is the option of wearing loosely fitting pants, such as pajamas, sweat pants, and more. We recommend Fruit of the Loom Sweatpants (link to Amazon).
You can then switch to tighter pants when it is time to get into your formal dressing. This type of underwear is sure to give you firm support down there. It is also more comfortable and cozy.
Also, if you are the kind of guy who sweats a lot, it might be a good idea to switch to a dryer and cleaner underwear halfway through the day.
The type of pants you wear is equally important
Few people move around only in their underwear. So assuming you were to wear boxers — an example of loosely fitting underwear — then also wear tight pants or skinny jeans. Do you think you would still enjoy the supposed benefits of wearing boxers?
Tight pants are sure to have the same effect as tight underwear. Be sure to go in for fitting before you purchase new pants, so you always buy pants that fit correctly. They are also likely to increase the testicular temperature. The 2018 study failed to capture this aspect, but it is something worth giving some thought.
We must also not overlook the fabric of both the underwear and pants. Even loosely fitting underwear can have adverse effects if the choice of material is wrong. Cotton and synthetic blends are fine, but the luxurious silks, as well as the more fun fabrics, should only be restricted to special occasions. We recommend Calvin Klein Boxer Briefs (click to view on Amazon).