There are several male fertility home test kits available on the market, both in pharmacies and online. Most of these tests claim to indicate whether your sperm quality is low or normal. But how good are these tests really?
Fertility testing in a clinic where men need to ejaculate “on demand” is awkward, and even a little embarrassing, for many guys. And for a good reason! The conditions can be less than ideal when men have to perform in, shall we say, less familiar surroundings. A more convenient, private, and easy way to test a sperm sample is to order a home sperm test. Delivered directly and discretely to your home, a sperm analysis can be done in your own bedroom any time you feel like it.
But how good are home sperm tests in revealing men’s fertility potential?
Well this depends on two main characteristics 1) what does the test measure and 2) how accurate does it measure this?
As guided by the NHS, a sperm test should measure at least concentration (also called “count”) and motility. Unfortunately, the majority of sperm tests only measure the concentration. The problem is that this is not enough to tell whether you are fertile or not as the sperm cells’ ability to move (motility) also is very important. The same goes for checking the ejaculate volume. This can give an indication about underlying conditions that may block or prevent the full ejaculate volume.
The good thing is that most sperm tests on the market currently have a high accuracy, meaning that when you get a specific result you can be quite sure this is also what the laboratory would have found.
Most home sperm tests give the costumer a qualitative result, which means they inform the user if the sperm count is good or bad. These tests don’t give the precise numbers as in a laboratory and may thus fail to give borderline indications. It can therefore be a good idea to look for tests that provide the answer as a number rather as than a classification (so called quantitative vs qualitative test). This will also increase the acceptance by a health care practitioner if you share the results with your GP, for example.
What to look for in a home sperm test
When searching for or buying a home sperm test, it’s important to be aware of the following:
- Measuring sperm count and motility are the most crucial
When going for a sperm test, it should at least measure sperm count and motility. Some tests will measure more parameters that you can read about here.
- Be aware of the accuracy
Controlling the accuracy of a test can be hard for a people who are not medically trained. The easiest way is to look if the test has a CE certification as an In Vitro Diagnostics device (IVD). This ensures the device has been validated thoroughly and is safe to use. If the test is certified, the manufacturer will have to provide the accuracy in the instructions for use.
- Check your swimmers more than once
Because sperm quality naturally varies and lifestyle factors can affect sperm quality, it’s important that you choose a test where you can check your sperm quality a few times. We recommend to test the quality of sperm two times within 10 days to be sure of your baseline quality. This is also the guideline of the WHO.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines as a reference
Some home testing kits classify a low sperm count as under 20 million cells per ml. According to the WHO (international guidelines), a sperm count above 15M/ml is normal. Clinically speaking it’s difficult to address what it means if you have under 20 M/ml as it’s not normally used in the clinic.
If home tests measure several sperm parameters, it’s important that the reference is always the WHO.
Fertility Guidance is important!
Understanding a sperm test result can be a little difficult. Besides choosing a user-friendly home sperm test, it’s also a good idea to find a test with a good explanation of the test result and what to do afterwards if the result isn’t optimal. If your sperm quality is low (also when re-testing), make sure to contact your general practitioner or a fertility specialist for medical help. Many couples also start by consulting a fertility specialist online for some help and guidance during their fertility journey. You can access qualified fertility expertise for couples through Dr. Fertility UK here.
Together with the ExSeed app (free for download), the Exseed home sperm test offers accurate and quantitative sperm testing. This comes along with guidance on how to understand sperm results together with fertility assistance if needed.
Download the free Exseed app today and find out more.