Skinny jeans: a fashion fad threatening your health
These days, it’s hard to look far without seeing a pair of tight or ‘skinny’ jeans. The advent of these jeans came in the 1950s, with pioneers like Elvis Presley paving the way for the new fashion fad. Since then the beacon has been taken up by celebrities ranging from The Rolling Stones to Russel Brand. The figure hugging wardrobe staple is now favoured by women (and, quite bizarrely, men) of all different shapes, sizes, ages and races. The trend doesn’t show any sign of letting up soon and more and more it seems like the tighter your denim is, the better…
But the health implications that come hand in hand with skinny jeans might not be worth the cat-walk kudos. Tight jeans have been making headlines recently, and it’s for all the wrong reasons.
A woman in Australia was recently hospitalised because of her tight jeans, leading to health experts warning that it might be time to ditch the popular denim design. The 35 year old woman lost the feeling in her legs, couldn’t walk and had to be cut out of her jeans after her calves swelled up severely. Her tight jeans didn’t allow for her calf muscles to swell outwards as they should normally do whilst she was repeatedly squatting down to move things to a new house. Doctors believe the compression of the muscles led to compartment syndrome – a condition that occurs when nerves are put under extreme pressure.
And compartment syndrome might just be the least of worries for fashionista fans of tight denim. Skinny jeans also pose a significant threat to the reproductive health and fertility of men and women alike.
Tight jeans and men’s reproductive health
It has long been known that testicles (also known as testes) are especially designed to ensure that sperm and sperm producing cells are kept at a cooler temperature than the rest of the body. This is so that spermatogenesis (the process of producing sperm) is not disrupted by excessive heat.
Veins and arteries (which transport blood to and from the heart, respectively) are arranged in a special way around the testes. An intricate mesh of veins make sure that the warm blood entering the testes via an artery is quickly cooled to prevent the testes from over-heating.
The testicles also hang below the pelvis so they can move away from a person’s high core body temperature in order to stay cool. When a man is cold, the sack holding his testes can contract to move closer to the body to help his testes warm up. And when a man is warm the sack becomes looser so the testes can move further from the body and cool down.
But the introduction of skinny jeans can throw a spanner in the works when it comes to the clever cooling system in the testes. And as one in seven British men now favour tight denim; it’s important that we know the consequences our wardrobe choices have on our health.
Tight jeans can trap the testicles near to the body and prevent the important movement which enables the testicles to move nearer or further from the body. If the testicles can’t move away, they can be exposed to high body temperatures for long periods of time – which causes sperm and sperm-producing cell damage.
Skinny jeans can also put pressure on the bladder and encourage the breeding of dangerous bacteria by the groin, which can then enter the body and cause urinary tract infections. And tight fitting jeans are also linked to low sperm count and fungal infections.
TENA Men – a large company providing products to help men with bladder weakness – carried out a survey in 2012 to determine exactly how badly men’s tight denim is affecting their reproductive health.
They found that one in ten of the 2,000 men questioned had experienced an adverse effect linked to regularly wearing tight jeans.
Of the men who had been suffering from wearing skinny jeans, half had experienced discomfort in their groin, about one quarter had bladder problems and, worryingly, one in five had suffered a twisted testicle as a result of their tight jeans. A twisted testicle (or testicular torsion) is extremely dangerous as the twisting leads to the blood supply being cut off in the testicle. This can lead to testicle death if untreated. Amazingly, four out of ten of the men said they’d prefer to be stylish than comfortable!
And jeans aren’t the only culprit increasing the risk of all these reproductive health problems. Men who wear tight underwear are exposing themselves to the same risk. One study published in the journal of Human Reproduction found that men who have a low number of healthy sperm were more likely to favour tighter underwear.
Tight jeans and women’s reproductive health
Women aren’t off the hook either when it comes to their choice of jeans.
As denim isn’t a very breathable material, tight jeans can create an environment around the groin that traps moisture and heat. This environment is a perfect breeding ground where bacteria can grow and thrive.
Because of this environment, women wearing tight jeans can find that they are more prone to problems such yeast infections, urinary tract infections and bacterial vaginosis (where the natural balance of bacteria inside the vagina becomes disrupted). Tight jeans can also cause bruising to the urethra – which is another factor that leads to the development of urinary tract infections like cystitis.
It’s important for women and men to wear trousers and underwear that allow for ventilation and comfort around the groin. It’s a good idea to wear underwear and trousers that are made of a breathable material like cotton. Ditch synthetic materials that trap moisture and heat, as these only encourage bacteria growth and discomfort!
The important thing to remember is following a trend might not always be worth it if your reproductive health is put at risk. Fashion fades, but health should always be a priority!