OTC Male Fertility Tests

Two out of three male home fertility tests available without prescription have begun to be sold across the United States. The tests were developed by a University of Virginia researcher at the Charlottesville, Virginia-based ContraVac. The tests do their magic by detecting a certain sperm protein which can give a good indication of male sperm count. A count showing 20 million or more sperm per every milliliter of sperm is a positive result for male fertility, while a count of less than one million sperm for every milliliter of semen suggests male infertility.

Very Sensitive    

One of the three tests is called SpermCheck Vasectomy. This test is intended for men who have undergone a vasectomy. Close monitoring is essential after surgery to confirm that a state of infertility has been achieved. This test is very sensitive and can find a very small number of sperm, as few as 5,000 sperm, in a single drop of semen. Infertility is not automatic after a vasectomy, and the test can be used to ascertain whether the reproductive tract has been cleared of sperm. The test can also determine whether the male sperm count has been reduced to the values associated with infertility, says Dr. John Herr, who invented the over-the-counter male fertility tests. Another test which is not as sensitive is marketed under the name SpermCheck Fertility, and this test is aimed at those couples who are having problems conceiving.   

Still another test called SpermCheck Contraception is meant to be a companion test for those men using hormonal contraception, for instance, pills, patches, and implants. "The SpermCheck family of products is intended for use by men on both sides of the fertility equation—those who don't want to father children and those who do," states John C. Herr, PhD, who invented the SpermCheck technology.

SP-10 Protein

Herr is a professor of cell biology and the director of University of Virginia's Center for Research in Contraceptive and Reproductive Health. The researcher discovered the protein SP-10 in his laboratory and based the home tests on antibodies that can bind to this protein. SpermCheck Vasectomy is the only test that has been approved by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the purpose of monitoring sperm after a vasectomy. The test measures SP-10 which is present in the head of every sperm. With this test, men can obtain an accurate picture of their fertility, post-vasectomy, and fast.

Herr notes that some 15% of all couples have trouble conceiving, and in almost half of these cases, the cause is male infertility. Herr says that SpermCheck Fertility, "… provides a quick and easy way for couples to determine if low sperm production is the cause"

The third product, SpermCheck Contraception is being used to determine the effectiveness of a male contraceptive drug in a National Institute of Health study. Herr believes that SpermCheck Contraception will be marketed once male contraceptive drugs and devices receive FDA approval and become available on the market. These three products are the culmination of years of research that began in the early 1980's.