Those that wore boxer shorts exhibited a 25 percent higher sperm concentration, a 17 percent higher sperm count, a 33 percent more motile sperm and 14 percent lower levels of follicle stimulating hormone as compared to those men that wore tight underwear - this is also factoring in certain lifestyle indicators such as smoking and physical activity.
They sought to test the theory that briefs, being more constricting, raise scrotal temperature and have a negative effect on fertility.
Men's underwear choice can affect their sperm count and quality, according to a new study by Harvard researchers.
However, researchers noted that none of the sperm counts measured were below the normal range, implying that underwear is not a major factor in pregnancy. "Guys who wear boxers had higher sperm concentration than men who wore more tightly fitting underwear". Therefore, to determine the cause of male infertility, you first analyze the amount and concentration of sperm.
Sperm production is affected by temperature, and needs a cooler environment than in the nearby abdomen.
Still, Eisenberg said that "if the current study can be consistently reproduced, then I think it's something we should discuss with all patients".
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When in comes to male fertility, it seems the old "brief versus boxers" debate has finally been settled.
The researchers explained in Human Reproduction how they quizzed men in couples who were seeking fertility treatment about their favourite underwear choices. The men, all between the ages of 32 and 39, had also completed a survey that included questions about the style of underwear they had been wearing for the previous three months.
That finding suggests that, in men who wear tighter underwear, decreased sperm production may send a signal to the brain to increase levels of FSH to compensate for the lower sperm production.
Men trying to get their partners pregnant may not have to throw out all their briefs, said Dr. Harry Fisch, a clinical professor of urology and reproductive medicine at the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.
While the age-old locker-room debate among men - boxers vs. briefs - is more aesthetic than medical, the question has always been raised: do tight-fitting shorts overheat the family jewels? The rest wore tighter underwear. "But if you're exercising and wearing tighter underwear, you're probably putting your testicles at risk for heat".
Anything that prevents this cooling is likely to impair both sperm output and quality. The simultaneous presence of lower sperm counts and higher FSH among men wearing tight-fitting underwear suggests the presence of a compensatory mechanism.