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Are At-Home Sperm Tests Any Good?

By Tracey Minella

March 30th, 2012 at 1:40 pm


Nothing can substitute for a complete, professional medical evaluation of your sperm. And these kits don’t even come close.

The new at-home sperm test kit may be convenient and private, but even in the best light, it only gives a small amount of information…information that many men might misinterpret. And it can’t definitively answer your question about whether you can father a child.

It’s the last blogging day of the month, so this post is dedicated to the guys.

At-home sperm tests only test sperm count. You mix your semen with drops from the kit and, similar to a woman’s ovulation test kit, you wait for a reaction and try to interpret what the lines mean. Simply put, if the lines show, your count is considered in “Normal” range, or at least 20 million per milliliter. If you get a negative result, your count is considered “Low”, or under 20 million per milliliter.

The danger here (aside from doing the test wrong or interpreting it wrong) is that the guys who get a “normal” result may wrongly assume their sperm is fine, and not follow up with an evaluation by a Reproductive Endocrinologist or Urologist specializing in male infertility.

And their sperm may NOT be fine at all.

There is more to an evaluation of sperm than measuring the count. You need to know the motility…which is how the sperm moves. You need to know the morphology…which is how the sperm is shaped. These at-home tests do not evaluate these two crucial factors in determining if male infertility is an issue.

A man with a normal sperm count may make enough sperm, but what if they don’t swim (move) well enough to meet the egg? What if they have two-heads or other mutations (morphology) that would affect their ability to fertilize an egg?

Consider all the time, expense, and sometimes invasive testing a woman has to undergo for her own complete evaluation. Shouldn’t the man who wants to father a child have a complete, thorough semen analysis (and any other recommended fertility-related tests) by a medical professional rather than relying on a $40 OTC kit, that doesn’t answer the question “Can I father a child?”

Long Island IVF’s male reproductive specialist, urologist Yefim Sheynkin, MD, can answer your questions and more. Read about his qualifications, specialties, and expertise here:

So, here’s the re-cap:

You take the at-home test, get a positive result, and interpret it to mean you have no sperm issues. Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. You have no idea if you can father a child. And you’re out $40.

Or, you take the test, get a negative result, and hopefully, that result at least forces you to make the appointment with the medical professional to investigate the reason for the low count, and to find out if there are other issues with your sperm, hormones, and/or anatomy that will give you an idea if you can father a child. And you’re out the $40.

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Would you rely on an at-home sperm kit? (Or let your partner rely on one?)

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Male Fertility Home Test? Move over Pee Stick!

By Tracey Minella

October 31st, 2011 at 11:59 pm

Knock knock.

Who’s there?


Thermos who?

Thermos be a better knock knock joke than this.

Well, I couldn’t just let Knock Knock Joke Day go by without recognizing it somehow. But it’s the last day of the month, so today’s post is all about the guys. So let’s move on to something really interesting.

Dueling pee sticks? Well, not exactly. But one day soon you could conceivably (get it?)  see a man and woman battling each other for bathroom space to take… and await the results of…their own stick-like fertility tests.

We’ve already got ovulation and pregnancy test kits for the ladies. But the latest thing to come down the pregnancy quest pike will be the male “fertility chip”.

Researchers are developing, with the intention of mass-marketing, a male fertility chip which is like a lab on a stick. A drop of male ejaculate onto this chip could test male sperm concentration (count) and sperm movement (motility)…reliably and in the comfort of your own home.

Imagine that, guys? No more embarrassing collection rooms. No more hurried home collections, messy cups, and quick deliveries to labs. Good-bye hand-off of awkward brown lunch bag to smirking nurse.

Now this is still in the early stages, so don’t run out to Walgreen’s just yet for your own kit. And the report did not mention that the test could determine the sperm’s size and shape (morphology), so a standard lab analysis, at least initially, may still be necessary. But 2 out of 3 ain’t bad. What a great development in the field of infertility!

Here’s the link for the details:

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If a home kit did become available to test male fertility as indicated above, would you trust it or would you stick to today’s lab testing? Would the convenience of a home test trump the embarrassment of a lab test?

Anyone want to share a funny (but printable) collection story? (Well, it is knock, knock joke day…) Yeah, I didn’t think so…

Photo credit:

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Bad Plastics, Bad Sperm?

By Tracey Minella

June 8th, 2011 at 12:44 am

Please tell me you’re not heating up dinner in a BPA plastic container. Or freezing your drink in a BPA plastic bottle. If you are messing with BPA, you could be messing with your sperm count and testosterone level, guys.

BPA stands for Bisphenol A and is a form of “bad plastic” in that it has been linked recently to health problems to those exposed to it. And those health problems could include infertility. At least that’s the case in exposed lab mice. Sure, having a smaller litter might not actually worry you, but structurally defective testicles don’t sound like a picnic. See

Even very short term exposure to BPA may affect a man’s fertility, so you need to be super careful of the plastics you come in contact with on a daily basis. Watch not just for water bottles, but the cling wraps and the Tupperware containers you nuke, and the epoxy linings of cans of food you consume. This stuff’s everywhere!

So how do you protect yourself, your fertility, and the baby you’re trying to have?

One quick lesson. The bottom of plastic containers is often marked with a triangle with a number inside. If the number is 1,2,4, or 5, it’s probably safe. But the most dangerous, potentially toxic plastics are those marked with a 3, 6, or 7. Get those out of your life immediately. For more information on plastics, please go to

Drinking lots of water…in the right container…is a great thing. In the wrong container, it could be deadly. Summer’s here. Drink responsibly.

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I’m Less of a Man Because I Can’t Get My Wife Pregnant

By Tracey Minella

April 29th, 2011 at 12:00 am

I  can’t resist a challenge, so when RESOLVE asked infertility bloggers to help bust some popular myths during National Infertility Awareness Week in April, I stepped up. And since this issue of the ECF News is focused on the guys because its Father’s Day this month, I’ve decided to share a less edgy version of that post.

I’m busting that myth about a guy’s manliness being based on his ability to get his wife pregnant. Harsh language ahead, but you guys can take it, right?

First of all, a guy can have eleventy two million sperm, all shaped like Hercules, but if his troops encounter cervical mucus from hell, tubes tighter than his formerly favorite briefs, or a hostile womb…none of which would be his “fault”…she’s not getting pregnant. 

But men don’t see things that way. Men think they’re losers if they “shoot blanks”. Where the heck does this thinking come from? The locker room? Cowboy movies? When are you going to realize that size doesn’t matter, guys…at least when it comes to sperm count?

There’s only one type of guy we infertiles talk about… our soul mate. Wanna know why? Because if you’re not our soul mate, you’re the loser ex who bailed at the first signs of infertility…or even before that over something even less important. So what if your sperm can’t get us pregnant.

The measure of a man’s worth is not determined by the size of his sperm count or by whether he’s hung like a bear or a raisin. It’s much deeper than that. Stop feeling like you are less of a man.

You are more of a man because you’re still here beside me telling me we’re gonna get through this together, and because you’re not afraid to show me your pain and disappointment at the setbacks.

You are more of a man because you scraped me off the floor after that HSG and you learned to do the injections despite every fiber of your being wanting to run and hide.

You’re more of a man because you held my hand at all the surgeries, retrievals, transfers, and miscarriages and always made sure I had plenty of hot hospital blankets.

You’re more of a man because you can handle yourself and a plastic cup.

You’re more of a man because you show me every day that you’ll do whatever it takes to make us a family… even if it means accepting another man’s cup.  Even if it means releasing your own dream of someday seeing yourself in your son’s eyes.

There’s an abundance of sperm in the world. It only costs a couple hundred bucks per vial. But there’s only one you. And you’re priceless.

Sperm may make you a father, but it takes what you’ve got to be a daddy. And don’t you forget it.

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Ladies: If you could tell your partner one thing to reassure him, what would it be?

Guys: How does your wife make you feel about male factor issues?

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