For most people, that motherly advice about wearing clean underwear is embedded in their psyches. But fewer pause to consider whether their underwear is too tight. Research has shown that constrictive undergarments can affect elements of health including circulation, continence and reproduction. As part of your health regimen, pay as much attention to how your underwear fits as you do to the way it looks.
Men: Sperm Counts
Wearing tight underwear is not recommended for men who hope to father children. The United Kingdom's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence conducted a lifestyle study that found that wearing constrictive underwear is a greater inhibitor to sperm motility than other lifestyle choices such as consuming alcohol or smoking tobacco. Research suggests that groin constriction can lower sperm levels. Tight underwear tends to increase temperatures around the scrotum, and this can inhibit sperm production. Sperm viability is influenced by several factors, including body heat stability.
Women: Fit White
Dr. Keri Peterson, a Manhattan-based internal medicine specialist, says women should pay special attention to how underwear fits. Peterson, a panelist for the Share Care news service, says women's underwear that clings too tightly to the upper or lower abdomen could contribute to discomfort. High-rise panties that are too tight can compress the stomach and cause acid reflux into the esophagus, which leads to heartburn. Low-rise panties that are too tight can decrease blood circulation in the upper thigh area, resulting in irritation, tingling or numbness.
The Wrong Thong
Weigh the style and sex appeal of thong panties against the potential detriments to your health. "Health" magazine consultant Dr. Roshini Rajapaksa, writes in one of her columns that the choice to wear thongs boils down to common sense. Her advice: Wear them no more than for a limited time. Thongs can contribute to vaginal infection if they absorb and spread bacteria. Underwear styles that fit looser reduce that possibility. The potential for skin irritation is another reason to reconsider whether to wear thong panties.
Wear nonconstrictive underwear for the general health of your reproductive organs. That region of the body needs adequate air circulation for the sake of proper hygiene and defense against infection and irritation. Research suggests that wearing tight underwear during exercises can increase body temperature and trap unwanted moisture and bacteria.
A. Scott Walton began his journalism career in 1985 at the "Nashville Tennessean." His reports have extended to radio, television and the Web and he has written extensively for the "Detroit Free Press," the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution," the "Atlanta Voice" and many other publications. Walton holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Vanderbilt University.