Is it true that men should wear boxers to improve their fertility?
Infertility clinic Mesa AZ
Couples who want to conceive a child get plenty of advice about how to maximize the chances of a baby. Many of our male patients have heard that they should wear boxers to improve fertility. So what’s the truth about boxers and fertility? Does it really matter whether you wear boxers or briefs?
Boxers are commonly recommended for fertility
Boxers have often been recommended to improve fertility. The reason is that successful spermatogenesis (creation of sperm) requires a lower temperature than that inside the body. Although most of the body is at about 98.6ºF, sperm require a temperature of only 94ºF. This is why the testes are located outside of the body. The cremaster muscles can pull the testes in to warm them, or allow them to hang away from the body to cool down. This permits them to remain at a cooler temperature.
Theoretically, briefs could interfere with this process, by holding the testes too close to the body and thus forcing them to remain warm when they need to cool down. If the testes are too warm, this could interfere with the creation of sperm. This is why many people recommend boxers to men who want to improve their fertility.
Science is mixed on the boxers recommendation
Although this sounds good in theory, the truth is that scientific research has not consistently shown a connection between underwear type and testicular temperature or sperm count. Studies of this issue have had mixed results. There was one study that showed higher scrotal temperatures in men if they exercised while wearing tighter-fitting underwear (briefs) rather than looser-fitting ones (boxers) or no underwear. (Although the effect was statistically significant, the actual temperature difference was quite small: 35.76ºC for briefs and 35.47ºC for boxers.) However, multiple larger studies have found that the type of underwear worn does not influence scrotal temperature significantly.
Even if scrotal temperature is affected by the type of underwear, the temperature change may not be large enough to have an effect on sperm creation. As the authors of a recent systematic review noted, “available observations suggesting a link between tight-fitting underwear or trousers and impaired semen quality are not convincing.”
A 2016 study looked at a group of over 500 men who were planning a pregnancy with their female partners. After surveying them about their underwear choices, the study continued to assess pregnancy rates among the couples. The time it took for the female partners to become pregnant didn’t differ significantly between men wearing different types of underwear. Although more research studies like this would still be useful, this is pretty good evidence that men shouldn’t be too concerned about their underwear choices.
So what should men do?
If you’re a man, and you and your partner are trying to conceive a child, you can wear whichever type of underwear you like. If you prefer briefs, there’s no real scientific evidence proving that you need to switch to boxers to improve your fertility. It’s unlikely to matter much, if at all.
Still, couples who are having trouble conceiving often want to try everything to improve their odds of a baby. If you want to switch to boxers just in case this helps, there’s also no reason that you shouldn’t. Just don’t let this be a substitute for making other, more important lifestyle changes (such as quitting smoking).
At Reproductive Health Center, we know that your overall health matters for fertility. That’s why we include stress reduction (mind-body medicine classes and massage) and nutrition as part of our treatment program for our patients. The combination of advanced technology and holistic lifestyle support sets us apart as an infertility clinic. We see patients coming from Tucson, Phoenix, Mesa, and even farther afield, who come to access our award-winning infertility treatment. Your family is the most important investment that you’ll ever make. This is why most people consider it worthwhile to travel for a few hours to access high-quality, compassionate reproductive care. Please contact us to schedule your appointment.