Men are constantly being bombarded with articles online claiming that wearing tighty whities pose a threat to male reproductive health.
A study carried out by international men's magazine Men's Health claims that wearing tight underpants can affect your sperm count and can even affect the ability of a man to imprgenate a woman.
"Wearing tight underwear can be uncomfortable at times, but it does not affect sperm count," says Dr. Patrick H. Tuliao, a urologist sub-specializing in oncology, endourology, laparoscopic, and robotic urologic surgery in The Medical City. He says there is no logical reason to think that wearing briefs have a direct influence on a man's hormones. "Sperm can be killed by increased scrotal temperature, spermicide, certain medications, and radiation, but not by wearing tight underwear."
Exposing your testicles to hot temperatures, according to Tuliao, does not aid the sperm production process. Hot tubs, saunas, and even intensely hot weather could have an adverse effect on your swimmers.
He says the reason why the testes are in the scrotum and not inside the abdomen is to keep the testicular temperature at a lower level than that of the body. This is needed for proper sperm production to occur.
Also, when you have a condition like varicocoele on this part of the body, blood accumulates in the varicose veins around the testes. Because blood is hot, the scrotal temperature is raised to abnormal levels.
According to Tuliao, prolonged exposure of the scrotum to heat actually decreases sperm production. "The motility and the morphology of the sperm cells are also adversely affected by increased scrotal temperature," he explains.
Likewise, there's no truth to claims that tight underwear can cause shrinkage in penis size. The adult man's penile length, in the flaccid or erect state, will not change because the amount of skin and erectile tissues is already fixed once we reach adulthood.
He adds that the penile shaft is firmly attached to the pubic bone via the suspensory ligament. It would be impossible for something like tight briefs to push the shaft in and cause the penis to shorten.
Therefore, there's no need to ditch your trusty tighty whities. As long as you are comfortable (and your family jewels are protected), then there shouldn't be a problem.
Dr. Patrick H. Tuliao, MD, DPBU, FPUA, FPCS, conducts consultations at The Medical City, Manila Medical Hospital, and University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center. He is also a fellow at the Philippine Urological Association and Philippine College of Surgeons.