Some 15% of couples struggle with infertility. When couples fail to conceive, guidelines recommend both the man and woman undergo a tandem fertility evaluation.
For men, this includes providing at least one semen sample, which is analyzed to determine if there are factors reducing the sperms’ chances of fertilizing an egg.
The current gold standard of sperm fertility evaluation requires men to provide a sperm sample in a lab or clinic, which is then examined within an hour. After an hour, the sperm begin to die, and the results are no longer accurate.
However, a new study from Keck Medicine of USC challenges this tight timeline, showing that an at-home, mail-in testing kit can accurately test sperm up to 52 hours after the sample was given, despite sperm degradation. The study was published in Fertility and Sterility.
“This is a game changer for men because it means they no longer have to come into a lab or clinic to provide a sample, an experience some find unnerving and challenging,” said Mary Samplaski, MD, a male infertility specialist with Keck Medicine and lead investigator of the study. “This allows men to secure highly accurate male fertility results while providing the specimen from the comfort of their own home.”
Such flexibility to mail in a specimen rather than give one in a provider’s office is even more important due the COVID-19 pandemic. “Some labs have closed, and people may be hesitant to visit a clinic right now,” she added.
With the goal of making sperm testing more accessible, Samplaski and colleagues compared the accuracy of a new at-home, mail-in semen analysis system with that of the one-hour, in-office sperm test.
While other at-home tests have been developed over the years, they have not been successful, said Samplaski.