You’ve probably heard before that tight underwear or pants can harm male fertility. Research so far has produced mixed results, but there is some evidence that suggests wearing tight garments lowers sperm production and therefore making it harder to conceive. If you’re trying to have a baby, you may want to pay attention to this information and adjust your wardrobe accordingly.
As a matter of fact, overly tight clothing can cause a number of health issues for both men and women. Tight pants, in particular, can lead to urinary tract infections, over-active bladders, and even twisted testicles. When it comes to sperm however, the problem isn’t the constriction that tight garments cause; it’s the heat.
The testicles function best when they are slightly cooler than body temperature. That’s why they hang outside of the body. Tight underwear or pants push the testicles up against the body, subsequently increasing their temperature. This increased temperature causes reductions in sperm count and can also decrease sperm motility.
A number of studies have supported this theory that tight garments increase testicular temperatures. A 2007 study, for example, confirmed that tighter-fitting underwear were associated with higher temperatures in the scrotum. How strictly this temperature rise corresponds to sperm count, however, is still a matter of debate. We know that the testicles should be kept slightly cooler than body temperature for ideal sperm production, and we also know that tight underwear and pants can increase testicular temperature. The remaining question is whether the temperature increase is enough to make a significant difference. Most studies conducted so far have been small, and more research is still necessary to reach a convincing conclusion.
If you are trying to conceive, however, you may want to take the cautious route by choosing looser-fitting garments. Briefs (or “tightie wighties”), skinny jeans, and other tight pants can all constrict the testicles and lead to temperature increases. If you are having trouble conceiving, choose boxers and looser-fitting pants instead. This is particularly important when you are participating in sports activities or sitting for long stretches, as these activities raise your scrotum’s temperature.
Keep in mind that sperm production takes about 10-11 weeks. The good news is that this means if you habitually wore skinny jeans in your youth, they shouldn’t have a long-term effect on your fertility. However, you also need to plan in advance and adjust your wardrobe for the long-term. You can’t simply wear baggier pants on the nights you are trying to conceive. Instead, view this wardrobe change as a long-term lifestyle adjustment until you and your partner conceive.