- REUTERS/Djordje Kojadinovic
- Men’s underwear choice can affect their sperm count and quality, according to a new study by Harvard researchers.
- The results showed that men who chose looser-fitting undergarments like boxers had a higher average sperm count and concentration than men who frequently wore briefs.
- So if you and your partner are trying to have a baby, boxers might be a good choice.
A group of Harvard researchers have answered an age-old question: boxers or briefs?
At least, they’ve determined which option is better if having a child is an immediate goal.
According to a paper published on Wednesday in the journal Human Reproduction, men who frequently wear loose-fitting boxers have significantly higher sperm concentrations and total sperm count than their brief-wearing brethren.
“These results point to a relatively easy change that men can make when they and their partners are seeking to become pregnant,” Lidia Mínguez-Alarcón, the study’s lead author and a researcher at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said in a press release.
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.
Among the study participants, 53% reported mostly wearing boxers. These men were found to have sperm concentrations that were 25% higher than the men who mostly wore tighter-fitting types of underwear, and total sperm counts that were 17% higher.
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. These sperm are more adept at moving through the female reproductive system and fertilizing an egg, according to the study.
The researchers also analyzed blood samples from about 300 of the participants and found that the men who wore boxers had 14% lower levels of a hormone called FSH – which is known to play a role in male fertility – compared with men who wore tighter underwear. The authors say this might indicate that brief-wearers’ bodies have a mechanism that compensates for lower sperm levels by sending signals to the brain to boost hormone production.
“Beyond providing additional evidence that underwear choices may impact fertility, our study provides evidence, for the first time, that a seemingly random lifestyle choice could have profound impacts on hormone production in men at both the level of the testis and the brain,” Jorge Chavarro, one of the study’s authors and an associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard, said in a statement.
So if you and your partner are trying to have a baby, reach for looser-fitting underwear.