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Are Drugstore Male Infertility Tests a Good Idea?

Posted Feb 08 2012 12:00am

A new home sperm counting test is going to be debuted in drugstores this spring, helping men determine whether or not they should seek male infertility treatment .

The new test, called SpermCheck Fertility, simply requires the male to mix his semen with a solution provided in the kit and then drop it onto a test strip. Similar to that of female fertility tests, a small red line will appear if the sperm count is within “normal” ranges. A negative test means that male infertility treatment should be sought.
Too good to be true?
While this $40 test is the first of its kind to become available over-the-counter to consumers, fertility specialists are questioning whether or not this type of accessibility really a good idea.
“In my opinion this test is dangerous because it can be misleading , both positively as well as negatively,” commented Dr. Norbert Gleicher of Yale University and medical director of the Center for Human Reproduction.
According to Dr. James Coldfarb, a fertility specialist who was interviewed by ABC, male infertility depends on several different factors, not just the amount of sperm available. The shape of sperm, their ability to move, and the total volume contained in the ejaculate are all equally as important to determining male infertility as a sperm count.
Dr. Gleicher explains that by using a test that only measures sperm count, other important factors could be missed. “If the test comes out 'normal' because the sperm count is within normal range; but if the sperm has no motility and/or morphology is terrible, then, the male is still very infertile, and may get false security and delay proper diagnosis by an expert.”
Conversely, if the sperm count comes abnormal, but the other factors of fertility are good, then, Dr. Gleicher concludes, there may be no concern for the male or need for infertility treatment .
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