Boxers vs. Briefs 2013

Boxers of briefs

By: Maria Katsigeorgis

As the holidays begin to come to an end, many men are left with boxes unworn gifts and festive underwear cluttering the annals of their closets. With all this new underwear lying around, we are reminded of the ongoing debate of which is better – boxers or briefs?

From a medical standpoint, this debate has nothing to do with personal style but reminds us that there are over 1.2 million patients, often frustrated and confused, who seek help in the arena of conception every year. Although, most assume that fertility is a female health problem, 50% of couples are actually affected by male factor infertility.

Male infertility is most commonly due to problems with sperm; quantity, motility, or size and shape can impact one’s ability to conceive. Many chronic conditions can also impact ones fertility. For instance, diabetes, which affects over 25 million Americans, can result in abnormal ejaculation. Poor sugar regulation can result in nerve damage including those which are responsible for coordinating ejaculation. Liver cirrhosis can also impact fertility, as the condition is often associated with hormonal imbalances that can interfere with sperm production.

Additionally, drugs and environmental exposures can interfere with viable sperm production. Although it is well known, that drugs like alcohol, marijuana, heroin and cocaine can all impact the quality and quantity of sperm, even some prescription drugs can interfere with normal production. Antibiotics, anti-acids, anti-depressants, gout, and blood pressure medications can also impact fertility. Similarly, exposure to heavy metals, such as lead and mercury, can influence sperm production.

As fertility can be impacted by so many variables, if you are experiencing infertility, it is best to discuss your concerns with a qualified physician. Every clinical work-up begins with a detailed history and physical exam. Although at times tedious, the questions asked by a physician help direct the next steps by narrowing the possible diagnoses and subsequent treatments. Semen analysis is a critical step in the work-up of an infertile couple. The results of this analysis will greatly help narrow the possible causes.

As with most sensitive health issues, myths and rumors are common place regarding male infertility. While some of these have truth behind them not all are based on fact. For instance, one wives’ tale connects long bicycle rides with decreased sperm production, however there is no conclusive evidence that supports this. Alternatively, another common belief that saunas can reduce fertility is in fact true. Saunas and steam rooms increase body temperature to a level that stifles sperm production. For similar reasons, keeping your laptop on your lap can decrease fertility secondary to the heat produced by the computer. It is best to rearrange your workstation or use a laptop fan to keep the area cool.

Lastly, although there is an ongoing debate on whether the type of underwear one wears, boxers or briefs, can impact sperm, research has not been able to prove that the type of underwear impacts production. From a logical standpoint, briefs are tighter so it is possible that they can raise your body temperature above the norm and decrease sperm vitality. Therefore it would seem that boxers are the way to go. Although this has yet to be scientifically proven, there’s no harm in wearing loose clothing and staying out of hot tubs and saunas when trying to start a family.

Image courtesy of artur84 /

David Samadi, MD - Medical Contributor

View posts by David Samadi, MD - Medical Contributor
Dr. Samadi is a board-certified urologic oncologist trained in open and traditional and laparoscopic surgery and is an expert in robotic prostate surgery. He is chairman of urology, chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital and professor of urology at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine. He is a medical correspondent for the Fox News Channel's Medical A-Team. Learn more at Visit Dr. Samadi's blog at Follow Dr. Samadi on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.
Scroll to top