Largest study of its kind concludes the importance of loose-fitting underwear for men to maintain healthy sperm

For men, choosing the right underwear could mean taking much more than comfort into account. A study confirmed that wearing loose-fitting boxers can improve your sperm count better than wearing tight-fitting briefs can.

Men choose their underwear based on many factors. While some prefer the loose fit of boxers, others like the snug feel that only briefs can provide. However, researchers from Harvard University say briefs may not be the best, especially for men with low sperm count.

The study involved 656 men between the age of 18 and 56. All of the participants visited Massachusetts General Hospital seeking fertility treatment. Everyone provided blood and semen samples, as well as information about their underwear of choice.

It was found that those who wore boxer shorts regularly had a 25 percent higher sperm count than those who preferred wearing snug briefs. They also had a 17 percent higher total sperm count and 33 percent more swimming sperm cells.

Those who liked wearing briefs had higher levels of follicle-stimulating hormone whose main function is to stimulate sperm production when things go wrong. The presence of this hormone is interpreted as a sign of poor reproductive health and is linked to excessive heat.

Although the participants were being treated for fertility issues, their semen quality was considered good when compared to the standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO). According to the researchers, this is reason enough to believe that the study’s outcomes could apply to all men, even those without problems with their fertility.

Allan Pacey, a professor of andrology at the University of Sheffield, says the study confirms that changing small factors, such as men’s underwear of choice, can cause significant changes in sperm quality. He clarifies that this shouldn’t be taken to mean that merely shifting to boxers can cure infertility. The study, after all, measured just sperm quality and not fertility itself.

“There is no actual proof that switching underwear style will make any difference. However, I think it is a reasonable low-cost and low-risk lifestyle change that men with poor sperm quality can undertake to potentially improve their semen quality,” he says.

The study was published in the journal Human Reproduction.

Tips to increase sperm count

Your sperm count has a considerable effect on your fertility. The normal sperm count ranges from 15 to 250 million sperm cells per milliliter. Any lower than 15 million means you have a low sperm count. This may cause problems in getting your partner pregnant.

There are several natural ways by which you can increase your sperm count. Here they are:

  • Exercise regularly – Being physically active not only enhances your physical performance, but it can also increase your testosterone levels. However, keep in mind that over-exercising can have as much of a negative impact on your sperm count as being sedentary.
  • Boost your intake of vitamin C – The accumulation of free radicals in the body causes oxidative stress, which may lead to infertility. Antioxidants fight and neutralize free radicals, preventing them from damaging your cells. Vitamin C is one of the most powerful antioxidants – it is also one of the easiest to find. You can increase your intake of this important nutrient by eating vitamin C-rich foods or taking supplements.
  • Avoid stress – Stressful situations cause your body to release cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. Cortisol has a negative effect on testosterone, so simply avoiding stress and unwinding can have benefits for your fertility.
  • Increase your intake of zinc – This mineral affects your testosterone levels and sperm quality and lowers your risk of infertility. Taking zinc supplements may also reduce the negative effects of too much exercise on your testosterone levels.

Learn about natural ways to remedy infertility at

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