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Fact or Fiction? Does tight underwear affect fertility?

Boxers or briefs? Baggy or tight? Does it matter, and will it impact your fertility?

A 2018 study suggests that there might well be a link between underwear choices and quantity and quality of sperm. The study, which included a total of 656 men, indicated that baggy boxer-wearers had a 25% higher sperm concentration, 17% higher sperm counts and 33% higher motile sperm count than those who usually wore other types of briefs – tight boxers, briefs or y-fronts.

The theory is that underwear disrupts the regular temperature of the scrotum, which hangs outside the body in order to keep the testicles cooler for maximum sperm efficiency. Tucking up the scrotum in tight boxers, therefore, could increase the temperature of the testes.

However, the evidence has its limitations: the test was conducted on a specific sample of men attending fertility clinics, meaning that their sperm count could have been impacted by a number of other factors. Additionally, men had to self-identify their ‘usual’ choice of underwear leaving room for interpretation, and the study does not account for other external factors such as choice of trousers and underwear fabric, which might also have an impact.

So – should you continue to wear tight underwear? The evidence may not be conclusive, nor might it be the only factor impacting fertility but it wouldn’t hurt to switch to boxers!


Mínguez-Alarcón L, Gaskins Aj, Chiu Y, et al.Type of underwear worn and markers of testicular function among men attending a fertility center, Human Reproduction. Published online August 8 2018

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