The business of fertility has grown exponentially over the last 2 decades as millions of couples have found it more and more difficult to conceive. Although the focus has been primarily on women’s decreasing fertility as they age, there are increasingly more cases of men with sperm counts too low to allow for fertilization of a viable egg – whether in the lab or in the bedroom.
Can you test your sperm count at home?
Leave it up to science, however, to find a way for a man to test his sperm count and quality right from the privacy of their own home. As reported in the Daily Mail’s article ”The one-minute DIY fertility home-test kit”, men could conceivably use a few drops of their ejaculate to discover not just how many sperm they are producing, but also if they have good motility:
“The test involves adding thiazine blue, which reacts to DNA in the sperm, to a sample, triggering the release of a blue colour. If the mixture turns dark blue, the sample is above the 20-million-sperm-per-millilitre level regarded by doctors as the cut-off point between fertility and infertility.”
It seems that men have just as much chance of having fertility problems as women do – sometimes up to 40%.
Could you use your iPad to test your sperm?
Of course, there is no shortage of apps and gadgets being developed for use with smartphones or the iPad for all kinds of medical uses. There are already ways to measure blood pressure, heart rate, EKG, blood oxygen levels, and now – sperm count. For all of you who want to get more techy with your bodily function, a Taiwanese company has developed iSperm that measures sperm count via your iPad. In a Reuters recent report, ”DIY fertility testing goes digital with Taiwan’s iSperm” they explain just how this works:
“The technology is simple: a tiny microscope enlarges the contents of a few drops of semen inside a pipette, lit by a backlight. The light beams the moving image to the iPad camera, and algorithms then analyse the sample for total sperm count and motility, or how fast sperm can swim.”
What can affect your sperm count?
It’s understandable that more and more men would encounter dropping sperm counts since everything from xenoestrogens in common chemicals, to EMF from laptop computers, to antidepressants, to pesticides, plastics, and smoking all reduce sperm count. The additive effects of all of these together can spell sterility for many men.
When should you test your fertility?
Although the prevailing idea in our society is that more information is better, I wonder what will be done with all this information? It’s reasonable for a couple to try to conceive for at least six months to one year before turning to fertility treatments. In the end, the way to improve one’s fertility is to make healthy lifestyle choices, reduce their exposures to toxins in the environment, eat healthy, and decrease their chronic stress. I believe that if more data helps you form a plan of action, change your treatment, or motivate you to become healthier, then that’s quite positive.
Dr. Castellanos is a psychiatrist specializing in sex therapy, bio-identical hormones, and functional medicine consultation. You can follow her on Facebook at The Sex MD, and Twitter at @DrCastellanos.