Can You Wear Compression Shorts as Underwear?

Man running in compression shorts
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If you don’t have a pair of fresh undies, can you wear compression shorts as underwear?

Yes, you can wear compression shorts as underwear! Wearing it for a long time can be uncomfortable though. In addition, not all compression shorts are recommended to be worn as underwear – there are some variants made to be worn as an outerwear.

In this article, we’ll talk about the effects of wearing compression shorts as underwear, and all the other things related to this sportswear.

Why Do Guys Wear Compression Shorts?

Compression shorts have been the go-to for athletes and people who have an active lifestyle and, honestly, it’s not hard to see why. 

More Comfortable 

Compression shorts are designed to hug your body, with their stretchable and soft feel – think of it as a second pair of skin! You know it’s a good pair if it feels like you’re not wearing anything after some time. 

It’s also made of moisture-wicking materials, such as nylon, polyester, and spandex. Moisture-wicking materials are designed to not only absorb moisture but also promote its evaporation. 

It pushes the moisture from your skin to the outer part of the garment, which in turn cools the crotch area.

Fewer Health Risks Related to Physical Activities

Compression shorts lessen the risk of getting muscle soreness on the areas they cover during a workout. 

What happens is that the shorts constrict the muscles as you work out. This “compression” eases the build-up of lactic acid and white blood cells responsible for the swelling and increase in pressure. 

Compression shorts also promote better circulation and in turn, better oxygen flow to your muscles. Increased circulation can reduce muscle fatigue, not to mention muscle soreness, before and after your workouts. 

The benefit of better circulation also comes into play in post-workout. Better circulation means that the nutrients are delivered faster to the affected muscles, speeding up their recovery. 

To top it all off, compression shorts also reduce the risks of muscle strains while working out. We all know that warming up is one of the best ways to prevent muscle strains. 

Wearing compression shorts will warm your muscles up faster than when you are not wearing a pair. Hence, reducing the risk for muscle strains.

Better Support for the Crotch Area

The compression shorts’ compressive nature is designed to keep your down there snug and tight. This trait lets it give you the most support to your sensitive parts all while providing support for your muscles, too.

The Cons of Wearing Compression Shorts as Underwear

Wearing compression shorts as underwear is perfectly fine; however, there’s always two sides to everything, and this is not an exception.

The prolonged wearing of compression shorts or underwear can be uneasy for anyone. Remember, these garments are made to be tight. Wearing one for hours will make you feel warmer than usual, not to mention make you feel “suffocated” down there. 

You should give your legs and groin area the chance to breathe, too!

There are also some known implications of wearing compression shorts to your balls. Wearing them for a long time can restrict the circulation to your groin, which could cause testicle pain. 

This applies to wearing too-tight compression shorts, as well.

Consequently, this can damage your sperm, too, as sperm production works better at lower temperatures.

In addition to this, there’s just really no added benefit to wearing compression shorts all day as underwear. It’s recommended to be worn a few hours after workouts, but that’s about it. 

Wearing compression shorts all day as underwear might affect its compressive nature, too. Think of your shorts’ compression ability like a candle; the more you use it, the faster it will die. You will have to replace your compression shorts more often if you wear them for long periods every time.

Choosing the Right Kind of Compression Shorts as Underwear

Although you can wear all kinds of compression shorts, some qualities make other compression shorts a better substitute for your briefs. 


If you’re wearing your compression shorts as underwear, then the materials it is made of should be on the thinner side. It can even be thin enough that it’s translucent.

Outerwear compression shorts are usually made of thicker materials because they’re meant to be worn as is.

This is an important factor as wearing thick compression shorts underneath your bottoms can make you feel warmer than you’d normally want to. This can also make your legs bulkier especially when wearing skinny pants!


Another thing you should look out for is the presence of pockets. Compression shorts built as outerwear usually have pockets, while those built as underwear don’t have one.

It’s kind of awkward to have pockets in your underwear, honestly!

The Brand

Not to be brand-conscious, but usually, the brand of your compression shorts can also indicate whether they should be worn as underwear or not.

More likely than not, if it’s made by manufacturers of well-known underwear makers, it’s underwear. If it’s made by manufacturers of high-end triathlon gears, compression tights, or cycling shorts, then that’s outerwear. 

Consequently, this affects the prices, too. Those built as underwear are usually on the cheaper side of things, while those that are meant to be worn as-is are more expensive. 

This range is mostly affected by the three qualities mentioned: the quality of the fabric, the engineering, and of course, the brand.

Tips on Wearing Compression Shorts

The first thing from the get-go is that you have to choose the right size. Generally, you should choose your regular size. It will feel tight at first (which is kind of its purpose) but it should feel better as you walk with it. 

If you still feel uncomfortable with it after a few tries, then going up a size should help.

But how tight should compression shorts be? Well, you’d want your compression shorts to be snug to the body while being able to slip your fingers in between the shorts and your skin.

You also want to make sure you smooth out your shorts before wearing anything on top of it. That’s because creases can increase compression at some parts of your body. 

Affected parts would then have lower circulation because of this.

The best way to avoid creases is by wearing your compression shorts slowly. Then smooth out any creases on the shorts, kind of like ironing them using your hands.

The last thing is that you should not wear underwear underneath! This applies even if you use your shorts as outerwear. 

Wearing underwear underneath would defeat the purpose of wearing compression shorts, from its compression benefits to its moisture-wicking properties.

So if you’re asking “can you wear compression shorts alone”, then yes, that’s actually the recommended way to go!

For more information on this, you might want to check one of our other articles as well, Are You Supposed to Wear Underwear with Running Shorts?

Other Related Questions

Do compression shorts prevent chafing?

Yes, but they do need to be the right size. Compression shorts (and other kinds of running shorts) are designed to prevent chafing as much as possible. If that doesn’t help, then consider applying balms or creams to your chafe-prone areas before going on harsh activities.

Are boxer briefs the same as compression shorts?

No, they’re not. Compression shorts are generally tighter, longer, and offer more security and protection.

Boxer briefs are also usually made with natural materials such as cotton. There are variants that are made with the same moisture-wicking materials as compression shorts, though.

Why do my balls hurt when I wear compression shorts?

That’s probably because your compression shorts are too tight! Too much compression can cause testicular pain since your balls are supposed to hang loose. Consider going a size up or replacing your compression underwear with something loose, like boxers or boxer briefs.

Are compression shorts bad for you?

No, but you have to choose the right one for you. It should fit properly and not be too tight to the point that it’s uncomfortable.

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