By Louise Chang, MD
Starting in April, CVS and Walgreen’s will start selling fertility tests for men, allowing hopeful dads to find out if they’re producing enough sperm to get their partners pregnant. Now, a do-it-yourself sperm count test may seem like a great win for men and their partners who want to assess fertility without seeing a specialist, but how helpful is a test like this, really?
Infertility can be due to female or male factors, and in many cases, female and male factors both contribute.
A work-up for male infertility typically includes a semen analysis. Although male infertility can be related to a low or zero sperm count, the problem may not always be about quantity. Sperm quality is important too. This means sperm’s ability to move normally and have the right form and structure. A standard semen analysis would also provide information on the volume of semen and its pH and look for other abnormalities within the sample.
So these take-home tests may be helpful for checking quantity, but they can’t check for quality of sperm or semen. It may be convenient to have such a test available to use at home, but it’s still important to see a specialist to check for other problems that can also cause infertility.