Men and women have very different options when it comes to fertility testing. If a couple has trouble getting pregnant, a woman can go to the local drug store or grocery store and purchase an ovulation predictor kit to help her know when she is ovulating. She could also easily buy a fertility kit to check her follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels on day 3 of her cycle.
However, if a man wants to know if he has an adequate sperm count, he must visit the local lab or see a fertility specialist. He would be given a specimen cup, sent to the collection room, and asked to hand over the sample.
Let’s face it, even the toughest of men find the thought of producing a specimen in a collection room scary and nerve racking. Actually, entering a collection room with a cup in hand while others watch¦is downright embarrassing.
Fear not, men! Now there is an over-the-counter sperm test that can be easily obtained at a local pharmacy or drug store that you can use in the privacy of your own home!
There are some great advantages to home sperm testing and there are a couple of major disadvantages. Some advantages of the over-the-counter male sperm test include:
- Quick and inexpensive test to determine if a man produces enough sperm.
- Gives you one of the important attributes (sperm count) necessary to determine male fertility.
- Easy-to-use with easy-to-read results. A red line means that sperm count is over 20 million. No red line? Then the sperm count is under 20 million, which means low sperm count. (20 million sperm in a specimen is one standard for assessing normal male fertility).
- Widely available to men in all CVS and Walgreens pharmacies.
- Fills a gap in the market for male fertility testing. Previously, there have only been female kits to test for ovulation and fertility levels.
- Home testing means that the test is performed in private. So, no one has to know that you are worried or that you are testing. This relieves any male anxiety about the waiting room experience.
- May provide an earlier alert to prompt a couple struggling with infertility to visit their local infertility doctor so that they may receive fertility treatments sooner.
However, there a couple of major disadvantages to this test:
- The home sperm test only tells you if you have normal sperm count. A sperm count is only one of the many attributes that are evaluated when determining a man’s fertility. The current home sperm testing kit cannot tell you about the other important qualities of sperm such as motility, forward progression, morphology, presence or absence of white blood cells, or presence or absence of agglutination. If there is an abnormality with any one of the other sperm attributes, male fertility may be lowered.
- Men may get a false sense of security and think that they are fertile just because the home sperm test tells them that they have a normal sperm count. Remember that a normal sperm count doesn’t necessarily mean normal male fertility. You need to know the other attributes of the quality of the sperm to make a more accurate consensus on a man’s fertility level.
Dr. Lowell T. Ku, M.D. is an award-winning and leading Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility specialist at Dallas IVF, one the nation’s premiere infertility centers. Doctor Ku clarifies the many confusing terms used in the world of infertility using straightforward explanations.