Men – girdle your loins with a kilt?

By Grant Jacobs 18/04/2013


An article in the Scottish Medical Journal attempts to address that time-honoured rumour, that “men who wear (Scottish) kilts have better sperm quality and better fertility.”

Like some things in life there are disappointments.

Firstly, the paper is pay-walled (although Popular Science have linked to a copy on a German-language blog).

Then there’s a lack of quantitative data,

Searching Medline and the Cochrane Library (using terms ‘kilt’, ‘sperm’, ‘fertility’) failed to locate any evaluation of therapeutic kilt wearing in relation to sperm quality. I am not aware of any randomised controlled trials in which the health benefits of kilt wearing have been studied, but there are some old anecdotic publications that mention many benefits and some disadvantages of wearing a kilt.

As the author relates, it’s pretty well-known that temperature affects sperm quality. Tight clothing (not just underwear) and clothing that traps body heat has been shown to affect the temperature of scrotum. Linking one with the other, clothing may impact on sperm quality. (Including nappies, according to the paper.)

The review of the biological literature out of the way a diversion into wider benefits is more fun,

Wearing a kilt has strong psychological benefits. A kilt will get you noticed no matter where you are. Research indicates that men wearing a kilt experience a strong sense of freedom and masculinity and that many women are attracted to men in kilts. […] it is a highly masculine article of clothing that is seen by some as the only male garment left untouched and unadopted by women. Even in its more traditional form, kilt wearing invites varied reactions and expectations, especially from women. The kilt gives a man a sensuous awareness of his own body and how it will be seen by others.

Citations are offered to support these claims.

The bottom line is a call for a randomised trial,

A randomised controlled trial with a cross-over design in which the scrotal temperature and the semen quality of men wearing a kilt for a certain period of time is compared with the scrotal temperature and the semen quality of their peers wearing tight trews can determine whether men who wear kilts have better quality semen. Several devices for the long-term monitoring of scrotal temperatures are available for this purpose.

with the paper ending it’s conclusion,

Because the kilt is a purely masculine garment, men need not be ashamed of or reticent about the therapeutic wearing of a kilt for a certain period of time to possibly improve sperm quantity and quality. But further research is needed to prove this hypothesis.

Any volunteers?


Other articles in Code for life (mostly on the lighter side):

Deleting a gene can turn an ovary into a testis in adult mammals

Scientific baking. Great for those lab meetings or kids’ parties

Neti pots now validated as sound science?

Sea stars and mosaics

It’s a small, small world (and three wise monkeys)


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