Boxers Vs. Briefs: What’s the Right Choice for Fertility?

Written by Kasey M. Fuqua

Women aren’t the only ones who need to make healthy lifestyle changes when trying to conceive. There are many things men can do to increase both their sperm count and the quality of their sperm, from quitting smoking to losing weight to… changing their underwear?

So the common knowledge goes, briefs are a fertility killer while boxers increase your chances for a baby.  While there are dozens of myths related to fertility in both men and women, it turns out that this fertility legend, though exaggerated, is actually based in truth. 


According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, more than 90 percent of male infertility is caused by low sperm count or poor quality sperm. low sperm count or poor quality sperm according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

While making sperm, a man’s testes need to be cooler than his core body temperature. Testes remain cool by hanging away from the body. While a normal body temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, the normal temperature for testes is typically two degrees lower.

Too much heat around the scrotum and testes can affect both the sperm count and quality of the sperm. The heat can come from hot baths, hot tubs or even just very tight underwear. 

Though study results vary, multiple studies have suggested that tight underwear that keeps the testes close to the body raises testicular temperature. This higher temperature can affect sperm creation and, in rare cases, stop sperm production altogether.

It’s important to note, however, that underwear must be very tight, keeping the testes right next to the body all day, to significantly lower sperm counts. Looser underwear, such as boxer briefs, may have a small effect on sperm count and quality, but are unlikely to cause infertility. 

In good news, heat’s effect on sperm production is temporary.  In studies, when men changed back to looser underwear, their sperm counts and quality returned to normal.  


If you are trying to conceive and struggling, it won’t hurt to switch to boxers for a time. Unfortunately, underwear alone is unlikely to solve male fertility issues. Men should also:

  • Avoid cigarettes and drugs
  • Try to achieve a healthy weight
  • Take part in 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 days a week
  • Avoid hot baths, saunas or hot tubs
  • Use lubricants during sex that do not affect sperm motility (such as Pre-Seed)

If you are concerned about male fertility issues, you should always speak to your doctor. About one third of all cases of infertility is caused by male factors, one third by female factors and the remaining third are a combination of factors. 

To help determine if you are experiencing male factor infertility, you can get sperm quality testing. These tests typically cost around $125 and can help you better understand the source of your fertility problems.

About the author

Kasey M. Fuqua

Kasey Fuqua has been writing for hospitals and healthcare publications for over five years. Her writing often inspires her to explore new habits at home, from baking healthier to trying different workout routines. She’s a firm believer in lifting heavy weights, enjoying the food you eat and getting eight hours of sleep.

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