In terms of male underwear, the ol' boxers-or-briefs debate is usually about personal style and comfort. Marketing geniuses turned it into a way to sell more underwear when they aired TV ads that showed women drooling over men on the street while guessing if they were wearing boxers or briefs. Remember Michael Jordan getting in on the action? But when it comes to fertility issues, men should consider more than just whether their undies are attractive and comfy. And one style is a clear winner for keeping the perfect temperature for optimal sperm count.
Boxers vs. Briefs
The verdict is in: boxer shorts are more fertility-friendly than briefs or boxer briefs. This is great news for men who love catching a breeze and not so good news for men who like to keep things snug and tight. The reason behind this finding is actually quite simple: location, location, location. Briefs and boxer briefs, which feature snug fabric on the legs, provide a more supportive fit and push his boys snugly against his body. Boxers, on the other hand, are less supportive and let a guy's business hang freely and farther away from his body. Consequently, tighty-whities actually keep the temperature of the testicles a few degrees warmer than boxer shorts. A few degrees may not seem like a big deal, but it can have real ramifications in terms of fertility.
Too Hot to Handle?
The male scrotum is designed to regulate the heat of the testicles inside. When a man is cold, the scrotum retracts and pulls the testes up against his body to help warm them up, whereas they relax away from the body when the boys are getting a little too hot. The goal is to keep the testes – and the precious baby-making sperm inside them – 1 to 2 degrees cooler than the body, which is roughly 95 or 96 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature is thought to be the optimal temperature for sperm production, both in terms of quality and quantity. Given that low sperm count can be a major contributing factor to a couple's difficulty conceiving, many doctors recommend that their patients switch to boxers as a simple means of working on improving sperm count.
Will Making the Switch Fix Our Fertility?
Unfortunately, no one single fix will improve fertility overnight for all men, but for some men, a few simple switches may be all it takes to boost sperm count. Men concerned about low sperm count should also avoid saunas, hot tubs and resting electronic equipment, such as computers that get very warm, directly on their lap because these actions heat the sperm to an undesirable level. Don't worry, guys — you don't have to give up the sauna forever or commit to boxers for the rest of your life; just keep your jewels cool while trying to conceive for maximum benefit. It can take about 10 or 11 weeks for new sperm to be produced in the testes, so nothing will be an overnight fix. Couples facing more serious and long-standing fertility problems should consult a fertility expert to develop an individual fertility plan that is best suited to their needs.