Which Home Male Fertility Test is Reliable?
If you and your partner are unable to get pregnant, although it is something that you both want, it is advisable that you visit a fertility consultant instead of buying a home male fertility test. While several home male fertility tests have been developed during the last decade, it might be difficult for you to determine which ones are reliable.
How Can a Home Male Fertility Test Help?
If you’re concerned about your fertility, a home male fertility test can provide some information to help you determine whether you have a low sperm count. Home male fertility tests measure the number of sperm in your semen—the fluid that you ejaculate during an orgasm.
Accuracy of a Home Male Fertility Test
Only a handful of studies have investigated the efficacy of home sperm tests. Here’s what researchers found:
Investigators obtained semen samples from 225 men and compared sperm counts using SpermCheck Fertility and a laboratory technique. SpermCheck Fertility was excellent in measuring sperm counts. The test correctly determined normal, low, and severely low sperm counts in about 96% of the samples.
In this clinical trial, investigators collected semen samples from 144 men who had undergone vasectomy (a surgical procedure where the tubes that carry a man’s sperm are cut or sealed to permanently prevent pregnancy).
After vasectomy, it is necessary to perform semen analysis to determine whether sperm counts are low enough to avoid pregnancy. The investigators used SpermCheck Vasectomy and found that the test had an accuracy rate of 96% in predicting whether sperm counts were greater or less than a threshold of 250,000 sperm/mL—which is the level associated with little or no risk of conception.
Who Might Need a Home Sperm Test?
Home sperm tests are intended for use in the following cases:
- Men of any age who wish to know their fertility status.
- Men in committed relationships who have experienced difficulties in getting their partner pregnant.
- Young men who are curious about their sperm levels.
- Older men who have children but who wish to know whether they might have experienced a change in their fertility status.
- Men who suspect they may be subfertile or infertile for one or various reasons.
Do You Suspect That You Have a Low Sperm Count?
Worried you might have a low sperm count? The main sign is the inability to impregnate your partner. Typical symptoms of low sperm count might include the following:
- Difficulty in maintaining an erection or low sex drive.
- Pain in the testicle or a swelling in the area around the testicles.
- Lack of muscular development (very rare).
- Decreased facial hair.
How is a Home Sperm Test Performed?
It is essential that you follow the instructions of the manufacturer before performing the test. You would be required to ejaculate into a collection cup, then allow the ejaculate to liquefy (time specified by the manufacturer). Transfer the liquefied semen and complete the test.
What a Home Male Fertility Test Won’t Do
I cannot emphasize enough that it is advisable to consult a fertility specialist if you’re experiencing difficulties in impregnating your partner.
Home sperm tests can measure your sperm count by detecting a protein that is unique to sperm cells or by counting the number of mobile sperm cells. However, there’re several other factors that affect a man’s fertility.
A home male fertility test doesn’t measure many other factors contrary to a lab test. Thus, an at-home sperm test can miss many common causes of male infertility.
Here’s what you can get from a typical semen analysis performed in a clinical laboratory:
- Sperm count
- Sperm volume
- Sperm vitality (proportion of sperm cells alive)
- Sperm motility (movement and swimming of sperm)
- Sperm morphology (shape of sperm cells)
The Best Home Male Fertility Tests
A user-friendly and reliable home sperm test could be of great value to couples trying to get pregnant and to men curious about their fertility potential. SpermCheck Fertility and YO Home Sperm are beneficial in this regard.
This FDA-approved test is designed to detect the presence of sperm in human semen by employing solid-phase chromatographic immunoassay technology. The test comprises two strips in a single cassette: one test strip is calibrated to indicates a positive result while the other gives a negative result based on specific sperm concentrations.
How SpermCheck Fertility is Performed and How It Works
The video below walks you through the process.
The test employs proteins that binds to a specific part of antigens present on sperm cells. After the semen sample becomes liquefied, about 100 µl of semen is collected using a pipette.
The sample is then mixed with a detergent containing buffer, which makes the sperm’s acrosomal membranes more soluble, causing release of a protein known as SP-10.
Six drops of the buffer solution are then added to the sample well. The solution causes gold-conjugated monoclonal antibody present in the cassette to bind to the solubilized SP-10 antigen. Another monoclonal antibody present in the membrane at the test line, reacts with the gold-antibody–SP-10 complexes to form reddish color at the test line.
The user should read the result seven minutes after adding the semen mixture to the sample well.
How to Interpret the Results
The result is negative if the test indicates a sperm count < 20 million sperm/mL of semen. In this case, you should consult a fertility specialist for a complete fertility evaluation.
Your sperm count is normal if the test indicates a sperm concentration > 20 million sperm/mL of semen. However, a normal sperm count might not necessarily indicate whether you’re fertile or not.
- It is as accurate as laboratory testing--the manufacturer claims 98% accuracy.
- It is non-invasive and convenient and can be performed in the privacy of your home.
- It is relatively cheap.
- It is user-friendly and results can be read in about 10 minutes.
- It cannot measure other factors of male fertility.
- A positive result is no guarantee that you're fertile.
YO Home Sperm
This is one of the first FDA-approved smartphone-based platform for testing sperm quality. This test helps users to assess their fertility status by instantly detecting mobile sperm in semen. It actually measures motile sperm concentration, which is the number of moving sperm per milliliter of semen.
The YO Sperm kit comes with two collection cups, two testing slides, two vials of liquefying powder, two plastic pipettes, and one reusable YO clip. The test kits are disposable and not meant for reuse.
How YO Home Sperm is Performed and How It Works
The video below provides a detailed description of how the test is performed.
The test is very easy to perform. The test consists of a device that clips onto a smartphone and an app designed to work with it.
- After purchasing the test kit, you should download the free YO Home Sperm, which is compatible with both iOS and Android, including the iPhone 6 and 6S models as well as the Samsung Galaxy (S8, S8+, S6, and S7) and Edge models.
- You should then collect your semen in the collection cup that comes with the kit and pour a vial of the liquefying powder in the cup. Let it rest for ten minutes.
- Attach the YO clip to your smartphone. Using the plastic pipette, draw some of the sample and add a drop on the testing slide.
- Slide the YO clip over your phone and press “Start testing.”
- Within two to three minutes, the devices captures a video of your swimmers and provides the motile sperm concentration range.
Interpretation of the Results
The results are straightforward. The app tells you whether your results or normal or abnormal.
According to the World Health Organization, a sperm count of 15 million sperm/mL and 40% motility is considered normal. The cutoff on YO is 40% x 15 million = 6 million motile sperm.
- It is user-friendly and can be performed in the privacy and comfort of your home.
- It is cheaper than a lab test.
- The results are accurate (the manufacturer claims 97% accuracy).
- Like other at-home sperm tests, it cannot measure all the factors of male fertility.
- The test can be only be used with specified phone models. For example, the S7 and Edge versions are not cross compatible.
At-home male fertility tests are easy to use and can provide considerable value to couples attempting to conceive and to men wishing to know their fertility status. While the results can serve as a front-line self-diagnostic to direct men to a fertility doctor, they are not 100% reliable. Thus, if you’re concerned about your fertility, you should consult a fertility specialist to avoid delays in getting appropriate fertility evaluation and treatment.
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- Coppola MA, Klotz KL, Kim KA, Cho HY, Kang J, Shetty J, Howards SS, Flickinger CJ, Herr JC. SpermCheck Fertility, an immunodiagnostic home test that detects normozoospermia and severe oligozoospermia. Hum Reprod. 2010 Apr;25(4):853-61. doi: 10.1093/humrep/dep413.
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