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23 Apr 2020, 09:53
"Blokes who wear boxer shorts are more likely to become dads, study reveals," reports the Sun, following research that looked at the underwear preferences of men at fertility clinics.
Researchers in the US recruited 656 men who were attending fertility clinics with their partners.
The men were given a questionnaire about their clothing habits, and provided sperm samples for analysis.
The researchers wanted to test the idea that choice of underwear affects sperm production.
The theory is that tight underwear can increase the temperature of the scrotum, which can reduce sperm production.
Men who reported that they usually wore boxer shorts had a 25% higher sperm concentration than those who reported usually wearing other types of underwear.
Men who wore boxer shorts also had a 17% higher total sperm count and 14% lower levels of a hormone that may be triggered when sperm production is reduced.
One point to bear in mind is that researchers looked at a very specific sample of men attending fertility clinics.
Many of these men may have had problems with sperm quality or quantity, regardless of the type of underwear they wore.
And we don't know if the results can be applied to men generally.
Because of the limitations of the study, it can't be concluded that tight underwear causes infertility.
But if you're trying for a baby, it can't hurt to try switching to boxers.
Other ways men can increase their chances of conceiving include moderating their alcohol consumption, stopping smoking, exercising regularly, and having a healthy, balanced diet.
The study was carried out by researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Massachusetts General Hospital in the US.
It was funded by grants from the US National Institutes of Health and published in the peer-reviewed journal Human Reproduction.
Many of the headlines implied a far more direct relationship between underwear choice and male fertility than the research showed.
Neither BBC News' claim that "Ditching tight pants 'improves sperm count'", or the Sun stating that "Blokes who wear boxer shorts are more likely to become dads", were supported by the study.