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There’s that old wives tale we’ve all heard about briefs causing low fertility rates due to increased heat on the goods; according to a recent report issued by the UK Nation Health Service, it seems there may be more truth than not in that line of thinking. The study aimed, ultimately, to determine if smoking, drinking, and unhealthy lifestyle choices can cause a lower sperm count. What the study found, however, is that these habitual choices have less bearing on sperm count than tight underwear (and the news cycle has been quick to leap on the boxer bandwagon as result.)
Within the study, about 40 in 100 men were found to have a low number of healthy sperm. These men were no less likely to smoke, drink, or otherwise have an unhealthy lifestyle… they were, however, much more likely to wear briefs over boxers. (The study found, too, that those same men were much more likely to work in manual labor, thus possibly increasing package heat in brief wrapped packages.)
We here at the Underwear Expert aren’t scientists per se, but we theorize that it might not be briefs at fault but more an issue of wearing the wrong underwear in general (you know, the briefs that pack down and compress rather than lift and separate from the body.) If this rings a bell, it won’t surprise you to learn that over 50% of men have gone commando at one time or another due to underwear discomfort. That’s the findings of a recent study by Wakefield Research for luxury athletic underwear brand Frigo, anyways.
Numbers like, this, and a general industry-wide move towards comfort in general (tagless underwear, softer more giving fabrics and smarter design that enable enhanced support and breathability) give hope that low sperm count caused by tight underwear and the need to go commando could go by the wayside.
We recently spoke to Obviously underwear brand co-creator, Robert Miljkovic, who indicated that he had started his brand due to a severe lack of his own personal comfort: “The whole concept [for the brand] came about from how I used to go commando because my underwear was so uncomfortable,” Robert told The Underwear Expert. “I then had a sort of true pants-caught-down experience, and I thought… there’s a better way to do this.”
Engineered of organic cooling materials, and built with moisture-wicking abilities as a paramount importance, Obviously’s new line of underwear seeks to solve both comfort and heat-build up issues within their underwear, which would, in theory, increase one’s sperm count, as the aforementioned study suggests.
Canadian underwear brand STUD’s wares could technically increase sperm count, too. They advertise themselves as “bringing sexy back to baby-making” and provide a “unique front mesh pouch.. engineered to be an answer to helping reduce scrotal temperatures in infertile men thus aiding in better sperm production,” according to STUD marketing materials. It should be noted that Stud further goes on to cite research claiming that feeling sexy produces extra testosterone in men, which could ultimately help couples get pregnant, too. So, there’s that.
Where does this all leave us? Should men forming a nest try to wear the sexiest underwear available? Or perhaps switch from briefs to boxers to avoid heat buildup? There aren’t any definitive answers, and the UK fertility study provides little illumination of it’s own results:
“The results of this study should be interpreted with caution and there are important limitations to bear in mind. All the men in this study – both those with low sperm motility and the comparison group without – were seeking fertility treatment. The study has not explored the reasons these men were experiencing fertility problems, and therefore we don’t know whether low sperm motility was the sole cause of the case participants’ infertility, and we don’t know the reasons behind the fertility problems in the control group. This means we can make no assumptions from this study on how, if at all, any of the medical or lifestyle factors examined are related to fertility.”
Whatever the true reasons that lead to low sperm count, we do know one thing with certainty: wear quality underwear that doesn’t compress, but instead lifts and cradles and, obviously, avoid anything that causes discomfort in your drawers–life is uncomfortable enough as it is.
Photo Credit: New Captain Underwear