Want healthier sperm? Wear this type of underwear

Switching to roomier smalls could improve sperm quality a new study suggests

A new study from the Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health has shown that loose underwear such as boxers may be better for sperm counts in men when compared to tight ones such as briefs.

"For most men, it's probably a nonissue", he concluded.

The researchers explained in Human Reproduction how they quizzed men in couples who were seeking fertility treatment about their favourite underwear choices.

Men in the study were between 18 and 56 years old.

To understand how underwear can affect sperm quality, the researchers collected semen samples - and preferences for boxers versus briefs - from 656 men between the ages of 32 and 39.

That's not the only advantage to looser fitting undergarments: Men who mostly wore boxers also had a higher percentage of what's known as motile sperm.

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"Because of this, we were able to find a potential compensatory mechanism whereby decreased sperm production relating to the type of underwear signals to the hypothalamus to increase secretion of gonadotropin [s], [hormones that act] on the testes and that is reflected by the increased levels of FSH, to try to increase sperm production". It was found that these men had 25% higher sperm concentration than the men who mostly wore tighter-fitting underwear and their total sperm count was 17% higher. Also, it has to be seen that none of these men had clinically low sperm counts. "Were it not for the higher FSH levels, their sperm count would probably be even lower", Chavarro said.

Commenting on the research, Prof Allan Pacey, Professor of Andrology, University of Sheffield, said: "This study confirms my long-held belief that men with poor sperm quality could potentially improve things by wearing looser underwear and keeping their testicles as cool as possible".

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. "Additionally, the differences in hormone and semen analysis parameters were not different enough to be identified as the primary cause of infertility".

So don't run out and buy a pack of boxers because you're anxious about your sperm counts, Kawwass added.

More information The Mayo Clinic has more about low sperm counts.

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