At-home Sperm Diagnostic Tests
Infertility is generally diagnosed after a couple has been actively trying to unsuccessfully conceive for one year. The majority of couples are able to conceive within this time frame and those who can't are checked for fertility problems.
Male infertility can be the reason why a couple has difficulty getting pregnant. In the United States male infertility is a leading cause of difficulty conceiving in about 40 percent of couples, according to the National Institutes of Health. Male infertility can be caused by sexual dysfunction, trauma to the reproductive anatomy, obstructions, hormone disorders or illness. Regardless of the cause, male infertility is directly connected to the quantity and quality of sperm. Most testing begins with examining the sperm and technology has made it easier to do some of this initial testing from the comfort of your home.
Ideal Sperm Levels
The ideal sperm count should be 20 million sperm per milliliter according to the World Health Organization. There are a few companies that have created special at-home screening kits that measure sperm concentration.
How Does It Work?
All do-it-yourself sperm testing kits work the same way, regardless of the brand creating the product, by staining cells in the sperm with a specialized dye. Then the intensity of the color is compared to the reference color to determine if the sperm count is above or below the desired 20 million per milliliter.
How to Use
The average kit comes with a test cassette, bottles of solution, plastic droppers, non-spermicidal condoms and liquefaction cups with lids. The condoms are used to collect a semen sample. A sample can also be collected by ejaculating into the liquefaction cups. Most companies will recommend you use only the supplied condoms and cups.
With clean hands, the man mixes the semen sample with the dye solution. The solution identifies individual sperm cells to help determine the overall sperm concentration levels. The dye is allowed to seep into the sperm cells for 15 minutes after which the color of the sample is compared to the control color on the test cassette. The ideal situation would be to have the semen sample the same color or darker than the control color. A second test is typically required after the first test to verify the results of the initial test. The second test should be done at least three days after the first test but no more than seven days later.
Analyzing Test Results
If the tests indicate that your sperm count is low, you need to see a physician to have these results confirmed with more advanced medical testing. Even a positive test doesn't guarantee that there are no fertility concerns. While one of the biggest reasons a man may be unable to father a child is because of low sperm count, there are other reasons such as sperm motility issues, high levels of undesirable cells that interfere with the way the sperm cells work or incompletely formed sperm. If you and your partner are having difficulty conceiving, it's a good idea for both partners to see a specialist for fertility testing and information about assisted reproductive technologies if necessary.