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Is your underwear helping or hurting your chances of becoming a father?

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Men who put on looser-fit boxer shorts have increased sperm focus than males squeezed into tight underwear, a new study revealed Wednesday within the journal Human Reproduction discovered. Sperm focus, which is the quantity of sperm per milliliter of semen, is one of a few normal metrics of male fertility.

However, males who most well-liked “bikinis,” higher often called briefs, and different tight-fitting underwear had increased ranges of follicle-stimulating hormone in comparison with the lads in boxers. Because this hormone stimulates sperm manufacturing, the researchers speculate these increased ranges, which push the testicles to work more durable at producing sperm, often is the physique’s method of compensating for decrease sperm focus.

“Whether underwear choice affects sperm production has been a topic of research for several years,” mentioned Lidia Mínguez-Alarcón, lead creator of the brand new examine and a analysis scientist at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. But this examine is the primary to analyze whether or not a man’s choice of underwear impacts his testicular operate as measured in a quantity of methods, together with reproductive hormones and DNA fragmentation, she mentioned.
Semen analysis is the microscopic examination of a man’s ejaculate, in response to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Parameters within the examination embrace semen quantity (how a lot fluid a man ejaculates throughout orgasm), sperm rely (the full quantity of sperm per pattern), sperm focus (the quantity of sperm per milliliter), sperm motility (the quantity of sperm which might be shifting), and sperm morphology (whether or not sperm are the right measurement and form).
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“Although the analysis of the semen sample is the first step to diagnose male infertility, it is not definitive,” mentioned Mínguez-Alarcón. Still, she and her colleagues used semen evaluation plus measures of testicular operate to know the doable results of masculine underwear selections.

For the examine, she recruited males who with their companions had been in search of infertility remedy at Massachusetts General Hospital between 2000 and 2017. Ranging in age from 18 to 56, every of the lads supplied each semen and blood samples and in addition answered a questionnaire about their underwear.

Among the 656 males, a little greater than half (345) reported that they often wore boxer shorts. Generally, these males tended to be youthful, slimmer and extra prone to take sizzling baths or step into a Jacuzzi than these in cling-fit undergarments.

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The boxer shorts group had 25% increased sperm focus, 17% increased sperm rely, 33% extra motile (swimming) sperm and 14% decrease ranges of follicle stimulating hormone than the lads who most well-liked “tighty-whities” and different close-fitting shorts, the researchers discovered after they factored in smoking, bodily exercise and different circumstances that may have an effect on the outcomes.

However, no important variations in DNA harm or different reproductive hormones had been discovered between the 2 underwear teams.

“It may not be possible to generalize our findings to men from the general population,” mentioned Mínguez-Alarcón. She added that different weaknesses of her examine included the truth that she and her colleagues lacked details about different life fashion elements that may have affected scrotal warmth — comparable to kind of trousers worn and the material of the underwear. Heat within the excessive is understood to trigger a decline in semen manufacturing.

By distinction, strengths of the examine included the “largest sample size and information on a variety of markers of testicular function” up to now, mentioned Mínguez-Alarcón.

‘Standard recommendation’

According to Dr. Richard Quinton, a advisor and senior lecturer in endocrinology at Royal Victoria Infirmary and Newcastle University, scrotal temperature in people is usually decrease than a man’s core physique temperature whereas the creation of sperm is most effective at 34°C [93°F].

“That’s why the testes hang down away from the body and have their own special blood cooling system,” Quinton, who was not concerned within the present examine, instructed Science Media Centre. “It’s been standard advice given to men in fertility clinics throughout the world that they wear loose fitting underwear and avoid taking hot baths. This study validates some of this advice in a much more rigorous and evidence-based manner.”

By distinction, Sheena Lewis, Emeritus Professor of Reproductive Medicine, Queen’s University Belfast, questioned “the use of underwear type as a scientific way of measuring scrotal heat.”

“The most important take home message from this study is that neither boxer shorts, jockeys nor bikinis led to a drop in sperm counts below the normal range,” Lewis, who was not concerned within the examine, instructed Science Media Centre.

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Another crucial word from Lewis was that “we aren’t told what ‘frequently’ means in terms of their underwear use — how many hours a day, how many days a week — but actually it doesn’t really matter since none of the underwear types being investigated caused a problem.”

Finally, Allan Pacey, a professor of andrology on the University of Sheffield, discovered the outcomes unsurprising as they “essentially confirm the results” from his personal UK study of 2,249 males that was revealed in 2012.

“This study confirms my long-held belief that men with poor sperm quality could potentially improve things by wearing looser underwear and keeping their testicles as cool as possible,” Pacey, who was not concerned within the new analysis, instructed Science Media Centre. “It’s also important to note the study is not implying underpants are a major cause of infertility — in fact, fertility has not been measured. There is a big difference between measuring aspects of sperm quality (as done in this study) and measuring fertility.”

Mínguez-Alarcón maintains the worth of her analysis.

“Results from this study are very practical,” she mentioned. “Men could improve their sperm production by easily changing their type of underwear worn to boxers (looser underwear).”

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