Reuters reports on a new device that will allow men to check sperm count in the comfort of their own home. It is scheduled to be available in August in Europe, and is undergoing Food and Drug Administration (FDA) review for marketing in the US too.
The SpermCheck Fertility test, which looks a lot like a home pregnancy test, should be helpful for couples who have been trying to get pregnant for a few months, but aren’t ready to seek professional help yet. About 20 percent of infertility cases in couples are said to involve the male partner, with a low sperm count being the most common problem.
Dr. John C. Herr of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, who helped develop the new test, told Reuters Health that the test helps couples find out if the male is a factor in the infertility. The best part is that it can be done in privacy, at a cost of only $25.
That’s a lot cheaper than going in and having a full semen analysis, which can cost between$65 to $250, and may or may not be covered by insurance. Compared with standard laboratory testing, the SpermCheck Fertility tests were shown to be accurate 96 percent of the time.
How it Works
Women who take a home test to check ovulation or pregnancy only need to dip a test stick in their urine. The SpermCheck Fertility test requires just a few more steps.
Herr and his colleagues discovered an antigen found on the surface of the head of a sperm cell known as SP-10. The SpermCheck Fertility test was developed to detect this protein.
Users let the semen rest for 20 minutes, collect 100 microliters using a pipette, and mix the semen with a detergent-containing substance known as a buffer, which releases the SP-10 protein from the sperm. Users then put a few drops of this mix into the two sample wells. Within seven minutes, the test results will appear in test windows above the wells.
Sperm counts of 20 million per milliliter of semen and above are considered normal. Sub-fertility is a count of 2 to 20 million sperm per milliliter, while infertility means sperm count levels below 2 million sperm per milliliter. “It basically tells the man how deep the infertility is,” Herr explains. “If both strips are negative it’s important that they then seek medical treatment for the infertility.”