New Test Measures and Tracks Sperm Count From the Comfort of Your Own Home
Too often when it comes to fertility, we focus on women’s reproductive health — not men’s. An estimated 11 million U.S. couples try to conceive yearly with approximately 15% experiencing infertility. Half of these cases are related to the male. Yes, you heard that right – half of all causes of infertility have some male related cause.
Once men realize they could be part of the problem they need to see a fertility specialist. Part of the challenge of the fertility workup for men has been the dreaded semen analysis that is done in the doctor’s office or the local lab; an experience that isn’t exactly private.
This is where technology can help. Just like smart watches and phones, there are now smart home tests to help gauge a man’s fertility. One of these devices, called Trak, is not just a home test – it’s a sperm count “tracker.” The device comes with an app that provides information to help you understand the test results, personalized tips to improve your sperm health and the ability to track results over time to determine if the changes you’ve made have led to improvement. If your counts are low it takes away the need to figure out how to help yourself – the advice is there and its free!
Doing the test at home is fairly easy. Once you do the test there are three marks on the test that measure the number of sperm cells (in the millions) per milliliter, indicating whether you have a low, moderate or optimal sperm count. The higher the white column, the higher the sperm count (see a video demonstration here).
All these measurements are based on clinical research and World Health Organization guidelines, so the test can give men more insight into whether there may be an issue that requires a visit to a urologist or fertility specialist.
Sperm are a gauge of your overall health, as we typically get the best semen analysis in the healthiest patients. However, if men are hesitant to visit a doctor and take a test in the first place, they may not ever know there’s an issue that needs to be addressed. Plus men don’t need to wait until they are having trouble with the baby-making process to get tested. If you’re young and just curious you can now “Trak” your sperm count from the comfort of your home.
Technology like this is promising for men who are uncomfortable with visiting a doctor to provide a semen sample. From my work as a urologist, I know how challenging it can be to get men to visit a doctor just for a regular check-up — let alone a semen quality analysis. However, tests like these — whether home-based or in a doctor’s office — are important because male reproductive challenges are responsible for about one-third of the infertility issues couples experience. Male infertility can be due to issues in the body transporting sperm, low sperm count or abnormalities that affect a sperm’s life span. But whatever the underlying cause, taking a test can provide valuable information that helps men improve their health.
Being able to take a male fertility test from the comfort of your own home is a game-changer, and it could shorten the time it takes a couple to conceive. When a patient comes to my office, one of the first things I check is his sperm count. But if someone has already been tracking his sperm count at home, this can speed up the time it takes us to discover what may be causing a couple’s infertility.
Though at-home tests are beneficial, Trak’s greatest potential is that it could let men know when they need to see a physician if they are debating whether they should. Part of our Drive4Men initiative, which focuses on men’s health, is to get men to go to the doctor. If something like Trak gets them there, then it’s a helpful asset.
The one caveat here is that there’s obviously room for error with any technology, so it's important to note that at-home tests can't take the place of a visit with your physician. If you receive an abnormally low result, it's time to make an appointment with your urologist or a fertility specialist who can provide proper care and give you the help you need. Still, taking a fertility test is the first and most important step, so don’t shy away from it — no matter how awkward the experience may be. Testing yourself at home, on your own turf, is a great first step.
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