While up to 50 percent of conception problems experienced by couples are the result of male fertility issues, only 20 percent of men are likely to go and have their sperm count checked. But could this be about to change?
Now available at major drugstore chains in the US is a new, FDA-approved at-home screening test that determines normal or low male sperm count with 98 percent accuracy, in under 30 minutes, and without having to go to a physician or lab to provide a semen sample. And it's easy on the wallet—test kits come with a price tag of under $50.
Makers of the test think the privacy of the at-home component will make checking in on their fertility a much more comfortable process for guys—and therefore, more likely to happen. "Men have historically avoided this type of semen analysis because it can be embarrassing and inconvenient for them to go to a physician or lab for this type of test, yet approximately 50 percent of all infertility problems are directly attributed to the male, and most of them are mainly due to low sperm count," explains Ray Lopez, CEO of SpermCheck®.
How it Works
The testing process itself looks pretty simple: guys provide a semen sample into a specimen cup, let the semen "rest" for 20 minutes, and then add test solutions, which takes another 10 minutes. At the end of a half hour? Test results indicate if the sperm count is within "normal" range (at or above 20 million sperm per milliliter, which is the accepted standard for normal sperm count) or low, which would indicate that a visit to a doctor or clinic is in order for further testing.
"This at-home test was created to meet the needs of couples who are considering and just planning on starting a family, those currently having trouble conceiving and even those men who are just curious about their sperm count," says Dr. John Herr, director of the Center of Cell Biology at the University of Virginia, who first developed the simple procedure.
This doesn't make this test a tell-all, however! Men, like women, still benefit from having a preconception checkup to make sure all systems are a go—and everyone is healthy—before trying to bring a baby on board.