Male Underwear Choice Affects Sperm Counts

Sperm quality, testicular function improved with choice of boxers versus briefs

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MONDAY, Aug. 13, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Men who wear boxers have higher sperm counts then men who wear tighter underwear, according to a study published Aug. 8 in Human Reproduction.

Lidia Mínguez-Alarcón, Ph.D., M.P.H., from Harvard University in Boston, and colleagues surveyed 656 male partners of couples seeking infertility treatment at a fertility center (2000 to 2017). Results from a take-home questionnaire provided self-reported information on type of underwear worn. To analyze reproductive hormone levels and neutral comet assays for sperm DNA damage, the authors used enzyme immunoassays.

The researchers found that approximately half of the men (53 percent) reported usually wearing boxers. Compared to men not wearing boxers, men who reported primarily wearing boxers had a 25 percent higher sperm concentration, 17 percent higher total count, and 14 percent lower serum follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) levels. Sperm concentration and total count were inversely associated with serum FSH. Underwear type was not associated with other measured reproductive outcomes.

"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, a hormone that acts on the testes and that is reflected by the increased levels of FSH, to try to increase sperm production," Mínguez-Alarcón said in a statement. "This hypothesis requires confirmation by further research."

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