How accurate is the SpermCheck test and what does it tell about your sperm?
The FDA has approved SpermCheck Fertility home test for checking sperm counts. This will be available both online and in several pharmacies for less than $40 a test.
Home sperm test kits are not new on the market. There are several options being marketed for home testing of sperm count. None of these have had the FDA stamp of approval, as there is limited if any supporting evidence of the effectiveness of accuracy of these tests.
Prior options have included overnight shipping of the sperm to a lab (sperm are likely to be dead before arrival), using “sperm analyzer” (no supporting evidence that this analyzer is effective), or even purchasing a home microscope and slides (requires extensive training to effectively preform microscopic analysis of sperm). The cost of these methods typically runs from $100 – $500.
SpermCheck is quite different from these other methods, since it is quite easy to use (very similar to a home pregnancy test) and the accuracy has been studied. SpermCheck works by detecting a protein unique to the surface of the sperm cell. The test determines if your sperm count is at least 20 million sperm per milliliter, which is considered a normal sperm count. It does not determine if the sperm are alive, if they are moving or if they are normal.
In comparison, a laboratory semen analysis will determine count, motility (which means they are alive and moving) and morphology (which determines if they are normal). The analysis will also look for evidence of infection. These tests typically will cost $100 – $200 and are often covered by health insurance.
SpermCheck could play a role if you just want to be reassured that there are sperm present. It is not accurate enough to confirm sterility after a vasectomy. It is also not accurate enough to determine if a vasectomy reversal has been effective, since the presence of live sperm must be confirmed. The test does not give enough information to determine if there is a male cause of infertility. SpermCheck is less expensive and more convenient than a laboratory semen analysis, but it is of limited value. To get a true picture of male fertility, a full semen analysis will be required. Call our office to schedule an appointment.