"That is why [testes] are located outside of the body," explains Celia E. Dominguez, reproductive endocrinologist, Center for Reproductive Medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine when talking to WebMD. "Testes were made to be out in the breeze."
Dr. A. David Soleymani, a Chicago dermatologist and founder of DERMIO.com, backs up the case against briefs, suggesting that the hot and humid conditions created by nut-huggers not only halts sperm production, but creates optimal conditions for fungal growth. Gross.
“Increased moisture can lead to infectious skin issues like tinea cruris (jock itch),” Soleymani says when talking to Thrillist.
So case closed. It’s obviously best to opt for boxers, right? Hold up.
While letting your balls fly free and cool may be good for fertility and staying fungus-free, wearing boxer shorts when working out or living an active lifestyle can lead to chafing, bruising, or much, much worse, testicular torsion. Testicular torsion is a condition where the testies rotate, twisting the chords responsible for the blood flow to the scrotum, and essentially cutting off blood supply. The painful condition can be reversed through surgery in an effort to save your junk.
“Boxers can be bad, especially for sports, because of friction leading to chafing. Testicular torsion is also a concern for athletes due to a lack of ball support,” explains Dr. Soleymani.
Just recently, another urologist and pelvic surgeon weighed in on the debate. In a video posted to her YouTube channel, Dr Rena Malik MD provided her medical expertise to the matter, starting with the generally accepted wisdom that keeping your scrotum at a higher temperature can have a negative impact on the quality of your sperm. Not surprisingly, looser boxer shorts were deemed the preferable choice.
“If you think about it, boxers leave a little more room to breathe, whereas briefs are a little bit warmer and cosier,” she explains. “So the thought has always been that maybe you should avoid briefs if you’re trying to get pregnant.”
Even so, data on the subject is limited as Malik traced this conclusion back to a study from the ‘90s which only examined 97 men. What’s more, it found no real difference between sperm quality in men who wore boxers and those who wore briefs, as well as only a minimal difference in scrotal temperature. A more recent study Malik found suggests there was zero impact on underwear choice on ability to conceive.
So there you go. If your penchant for briefs has seen you cop some heat from friends or your partner, know that it really isn’t as big an issue as most make it out to be - as far as sperm goes. But as Malik notes, briefs can in some cases lead to other health or hygiene issues such as jock itch.
Wow. So looks like we’re reduced to a choice of fungal-ridden infertility, or twisted balls. This is probably not the feel-good article you were expecting to read. Well the good news is that experts have suggested a happy medium could exist.
Try wearing boxers for everyday life, and tighter fitting briefs for working out, to minimise the risk of all negative impacts, whilst optimising sperm health at the same time. Or, you know, just throw caution into the wind and wear whatever feels comfortable for you.
And if your mind is still at a loss, and we don’t blame you really as both options seem to suck, take some tips from the opposite sex. Sixty-two percent of women think boxer briefs are a guy’s best pick. Boxer shorts came in second - another classic fit. If these are your go-to, stay away from kitschy patterns or lame logos - your underwear is not the right place to express your love for The Simpsons according to the poll.
Whichever way you go, one thing was unanimously agreed upon: steer clear of tighty-whiteys. Sorry lads, the results speak for themselves.