Is there a home sperm test that can tell me whether I'm fertile or not?

Answers from Todd B. Nippoldt, M.D.

Home sperm tests measure sperm count — the number of sperm in the fluid (semen) ejaculated during an orgasm. These tests seem to be effective at measuring sperm count — one study sponsored by a test manufacturer found the test did as well as a lab count of sperm 95 percent of the time. But sperm count is only one factor in a man's fertility.

Home sperm tests require a man to ejaculate into a collection cup. While procedures vary for transferring semen and completing the test, results are typically available in as soon as 10 minutes. The tests work by detecting a protein found only in sperm. If a home sperm test indicates that your sperm concentration is below 20 million sperm per milliliter (negative), you'll likely want to consult a doctor for a complete fertility evaluation. If the test indicates that your sperm count is above 20 million sperm per milliliter of semen, your sperm concentration is considered normal.

A normal sperm count, however, doesn't indicate if you are fertile or not. Home sperm tests only determine sperm concentration. They don't measure any other factors. Many common causes of male infertility are missed by at-home sperm tests. A typical semen analysis performed by an infertility specialist assesses:

  • Semen volume
  • Total sperm number
  • Sperm concentration
  • Vitality (percent alive)
  • Movement (motility)
  • Shape (morphology)

If you're concerned about your fertility, get an infertility evaluation. Relying on a home sperm test might lead to delays in seeking appropriate fertility evaluation and treatment.

March 25, 2015