Home fertility test for men set to arrive in stores

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Home fertility tests aren’t just for women anymore.

A new device that looks a lot like home ovulation and home pregnancy tests but checks sperm count will soon be available in Europe, and is undergoing Food and Drug Administration (FDA) review for marketing in the United States.

The test targets couples who have been trying to get pregnant for a few months, but aren’t ready to seek professional help, according to Dr. John Herr of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, who helped develop the new test.

He said the test helps couples find out if the male is a factor in the infertility “and to do that in privacy with some cost savings.”

“The product will retail for about $25. That’s a lot cheaper than going in and having a full semen analysis,” Herr told Reuters Health.

Herr said depending on where people lived in the United States, it would cost anythint from $65 to $250 for a semen analysis which may or may not be covered by insurance.

In the journal Human Reproduction, Herr and his team report on a study comparing the accuracy of their SpermCheck Fertility test with standard laboratory sperm count methods, using 225 semen samples.

The tests were accurate 96 percent of the time, the researchers found.

Sperm counts of 20 million per milliliter of semen and above are considered normal and a test will tell if a man’s sperm count meets this level and if he has a severely low sperm count of below 5 million sperm per milliliter.

“It basically tells the man how deep the infertility is,” Herr said. “If both strips are negative it’s important that they then seek medical treatment for the infertility.”

The test works by detecting an antigen found on the surface of the head of a sperm cell known as SP-10, which Herr and his colleagues discovered. Te work of discovering SP-10 and developing the test, much of which was funded by the National Institutes of Health, took about 10 years.

Reporting by Anne Harding of Reuters Health