They sought to test the theory that briefs, being more constricting, raise scrotal temperature and have a negative effect on fertility.
For all men who are anxious about their sperm count, here's a bit of a news that might interest you.
The researchers looked at several factors that affect sperm quality beyond total count, such as motility (their ability to swim), morphology (proportion of normal-looking sperm) and DNA damage to sperm.
The results showed that men who chose looser-fitting undergarments like boxers had a higher average sperm count and concentration than men who frequently wore briefs. Vij acknowledged that many studies of male fertility use sperm counts because they are much easier to study than pregnancy rates.
But Harvard University scientists said as no study participants went commando, they could only assume it would be good for sperm production.
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"We know that spermatogenesis is very, very sensitive to temperature", Chavarro said. The study followed the men through their time in fertility treatment and monitored changes in their sperm, but it did not ask about their underwear choice again after the initial questionnaire.
The men, who were between the ages of 32 and 39, completed a survey that included questions about the style of underwear they wore in the previous three months.
For men, deciding between boxers and briefs may be about more than just comfort - men's underwear choices may affect their sperm health, a new study suggests. The rest wore tighter underwear. When men have trouble conceiving, "we hope that there are other ways that we can intervene that have a little more significant science and data to back them up", she said. "Men who may benefit the most are men who've been trying a while and continue to struggle getting their partners pregnant". If your testicles feel hot and squashed, it might be time to swap to boxers or get some jeans in a larger size.
Anything that prevents this cooling is likely to impair both sperm output and quality. "That's why you see seasonal variations in sperm count", he added. Underwear choice had no effect on these other markers.
The simultaneous presence of lower sperm counts and higher FSH among men wearing tight-fitting underwear suggested the presence of a compensatory mechanism whereby the decreased sperm production among men in tighter underwear signals the brain to boost production of hormones that stimulate the activity of the gonads to try to increase sperm production.