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Infertility is the inability of a living being to reproduce by a natural process. It is the inability to become pregnant or impregnate even after engaging in unprotected sexual intercourse. All couples have a strong desire to conceive a child at some point in their lives.
Most couples, about 85% are successful in the act in the first year of trying, and 15% do after the second year. Thus, a more accurate definition of infertility would be an inability to conceive within 12 months of trying. Problems with infertility could be due to both male and female conditions.
Infertility arising due to a male's inability could be due to the following reasons-
• Low sperm count- Anything under 15 million is considered low.
• Low sperm motility- The fluid doesn't effectively transport the sperms to the eggs.
• Abnormal sperm- Due to an unusual shape of the sperm that makes it difficult for the sperm to fertilize the egg.
There could be several reasons for such conditions, one very unusual one being the choice of underpants.
- Boxers Or Briefs?
- Which One Is Better?
- How Does Sperm Quality Affect Fertility?
- How Can Healthy Sperms Be Produced?
Boxers Or Briefs?
Briefs are tighter compared to boxers. Tight underpants means increased temperature around the crotch. An ideal environment to produce healthy sperms is a temperature lower than the rest of the body. And briefs allow no circulation of air and thus, the temperature stays high.
Whereas, in the case of boxers, they are loose and allow free flow of air, keeping the testicles at a lower temperature compared to the rest of the body. This seems like good news for those men who like to keep their package loose and breezy and not so much for those who like it snug and tight.
Which One Is Better?
It was believed until a recent research by Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health that only boxers are fertility-friendly. But it is more about the environment it creates than the type of underpants itself. The reason why boxers are considered fertility-friendly is that they allow free flow of air and thus, keep the testicles cooler. Healthy sperms require a cool temperature. Sperm production takes 12-15 weeks, thus, wearing boxers on your rendezvous night will not give you the effective results.
It can be said that not just boxers, any loose underpants are ideal for healthy sperm production. As long as the temperature is controlled, your sperms will not be affected.
How Does Sperm Quality Affect Fertility?
The three factors that determine sperm health are-
1. Quantity of sperms: The normal sperm count that is considered healthy is anything above 15 million sperms per millilitre in a single ejaculation. Lesser the sperm, less are the chances of an egg getting fertilized.
2. Motility of sperms: For a sperm to fertilize an egg, it first needs to swim through and survive the path through a woman's cervix, uterus and fallopian tubes. If it is not able to do so, then chances of infertility are high.
3. Structure/Morphology: An oval head and long tail of the sperm are what work together to propel the sperms. They consist of the genetic information that needs to be passed on for a successful pregnancy. If any of these are absent or abnormal, chances of fertility reduce.
Thus, for a successful fertilization, sperm health needs to be maintained. More than 15 million sperms need to be ejaculated that are motile and normally structured. The better the health of the sperms, the higher is the fertility rate.
How Can Healthy Sperms Be Produced?
There are several factors that affect sperm health. They could be the body's anatomy, lifestyle choices, etc. You can take simple steps to improve sperm health-
1. Maintain a healthy weight. Research has proven that there is a decrease in sperm count with an increase in BMI.
2. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. They have antioxidants that contribute to sperm health.
3. Manage stress levels. Stress decreases sexual desire, which in turn interferes with hormones that are required for sperm production.
4. Wear loose underpants. Let some air in. Let your skin down there breathe. This will control the temperature of the testicles and aid sperm production. Basically, keep cool. Avoid an excessive use of saunas and hot baths. It increases your overall body temperature.
5. Get your body moving. This should be no surprise. We cannot fully know the benefits of exercise because there are just too many. Physical activities increase the levels of antioxidant enzymes which help maintain sperm health.
6. Prevent sexually transmitted diseases. STDs cause infertility in men. Limit the number of your sexual partners and maintain good hygiene down after your action in bed. This will help wash away any bacteria that might be present.
7. Avoid smoking. No surprise again. Smoking has been directly found to affect sperm count. Not only that, it also causes erectile dysfunction and impotence in most men.
8. Limit drinking. Heavy drinkers have lesser testosterone in their body, decreasing sperm production. If you drink, limit the quantity.
9. Avoid lubricants during sexual intercourse. It might sound like an ideal choice when trying something new in bed, but some lubricants directly affect your sperms and also cause irritation on the uterus wall. An occasional use is encouraged over a regular use.
10. Beware of your environment. Exposure to heavy metals, pesticides, paint, solvents or any other toxins can affect sperm quality and quantity over time. Wear protective clothing when around these toxins.
Something as simple as choosing the right underwear matters a lot. Choose wisely.