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Sperm Count Got You Down? Try A Kilt, Suggests One Researcher

Apr 17, 2013 03:02 PM EDT
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Man Wearing Kilt
A competitor wearing a kilt and standing on a barrel throws a ball between his legs during the 'brigaball' contest at the 36th Bundanoon Highland Gathering held in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales April 6, 2013.
(Photo : REUTERS/David Gray )

Fertility among men looking to procreate may be as simple as changing one's clothing, according an article published in the Scottish Medical Journal - especially if it means donning a kilt.

According to the author Erwin Kompanje, anecdotal reports that men who wear Scottish kilts boast better sperm quality and fertility have long been in circulation.

"But," he wonders, "how much is true?"

In order to find out, the researcher, who hails from Erasmus University Rotterdam's medical school, analyzed more than 100 heterogeneous observational studies published between 1934 and 1996 - a survey that revealed a global downward trend in sperm count over the last 50 years, particularly in Westernized countries.

And while the author agrees that the reasons for the decline are "complex and speculative and could include widespread environmental pollution and life-style changes," he also points to the fact that clothing typified in many Westernized have been shown to affect the temperature of the scrotum.

In all, adequate spermatogenesis (the process in which a sperm cell develops) requires that the scrotum be 3 degrees Celsius less than the rest of the body. In fact, the report cites one study in which scientists found that wrapping a ram's scrotum for 80 days resulted in the loss of all spermatozoa and considerable degeneration of the tubular epithelium, leading the researchers to conclude that an animal could be sterilized by its own body heat.

Similarly, the study points to other reports in which scientists found that tight and isolating clothing even beyond underwear negatively impacted a man's scrotal temperature - a process that was reversed when loose clothing was worn.

For this reason, Kompanje argues that a Scottish kilt, under which men traditionally do not wear anything, may have "clear health-related benefits."

"Kilt wearing," he explains, "Produces an ideal phsyiological scrotal environment, which in turn helps maintain normal scrotal temperature, which is known to be beneficial for robust spermatogenesis and good sperm quality."

Plus, he says, the kilt has positive psychological benefits as well, including "a feeling of masculinity and pride" as well as "positive attention from sexual admirers."

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