What Men Should Know About Underwear
Boxers, briefs, or bare it all? There's more to making good choices than you might think.
Medically Reviewed by Farrokh Sohrabi, MD
You wouldn't think there'd be a lot to learn about underwear — wear it, change it, wash it, repeat — but there's actually more than most men think. And whether guys choose boxers, briefs, or live to go commando, chances are, underwear rarely gets a second thought.
As a results, many men lack “underwear etiquette,” says Gregory D. Albert, MD, a physician in Delray Beach, Fla. “Underwear most importantly needs to be changed frequently and always remain clean, and I need to tell you, be discarded when they are thread-bare or stained,” he stresses. “If you work out or sweat excessively, it may be a good idea to change midday to remain fresh.” Here are more experts dos and don’ts.
Simple Rules for What You Wear Under There
With that sentiment in mind, there are a number of simple rules you can follow when it comes to men’s health and underwear. For starters, April Masini, a relationship advice expert and columnist, seconds the commandment that underwear dos include throwing out the old. “Your old underwear is not sentimental,” she says. “It's disgusting. Throw it out. Once a month throw out any underwear that is unpresentable. Gray, ripped, unsightly. Get rid of it. Uncertain? Toss it.”
Masini says this purge should be accompanied by buying new underwear regularly. “In fact, every time you get a haircut, buy some new underwear. Link buying new underwear to something you already do on a schedule, so you get into the habit.”
Don’t get locked into just one type of underwear. “My advice is to switch it up — and unless you’re religiously committed to boxers or briefs, have fun with your underwear and have some of both,” says Masini. “If you have fun with your underwear, she will, too — and everybody wins! Colors, fabrics, cuts, styles — have at least one pair of each. One of the best things you can do for your relationship is to keep things fresh in the bedroom, and while your underwear isn’t a cure-all for bad bedroom skills, it sure can’t hurt.”
Boxers or Briefs — the Pros and Cons
Variety might be the spice of life (and underwear), but it also brings to mind the age-old men’s health debate: boxers or briefs? Here, Dr. Albert says, it’s really a matter of your own personal tastes more than anything else. “Generally, boxers will give you more breathing room, and briefs will give you support,” he says. “It is a matter of preference, yet tighter briefs will lower fertility, so if you are trying to get your wife pregnant, stick with loose-fitting boxers.”
The next issue to consider is what material to choose. Masini says that men, just like women, should choose cotton or synthetic blends for everyday wear and save the more luxurious silks and other fun fabrics for special occasions.
For the gym, Maurice Voce, the co-founder and chief marketing officer of skincare line Skin Authority, says that the newest synthetic blends are the way to go to prevent chaffing. “You definitely need to wear underwear that provides the proper level of support and utilizes a moisture-wicking fabric,” he says. “Never wear boxers, cotton, or go commando when working out. The good news is there are so many athletic underwear choices at all price points. Also, never wear workout underwear more than once without washing them.”
The Pros and Cons of Going Commando
Another underwear option is to wear no underwear at all. This can be fun and feel great in the right circumstances, but our experts advise proceeding with caution. “Going commando can be very sexy, but like everything else, there's a time and a place,” Masini says. “Commando is great if you’re going for a sexy evening with a predictable outcome. However, dancing the night away first is going to have a sweaty outcome, which is not ideal. Also, linen trousers or shorts are going to reveal a little too much of your commando profile. If you go commando, wear something that makes your underwear status your little secret revealed by choice, not visual impact.”
Last Updated: May 15, 2014