What Is a Home Sperm Test?

Amanda Barnhart

A home sperm test is a testing kit that allows men to test their sperm counts in their own homes. Sperm testing kits allow men to determine if they might have fertility problems without going to a doctor for a formal test or to test to make sure a vasectomy or vasectomy reversal procedure was successful. Men can purchase a home sperm test online or from a pharmacy, often at a price far lower than a medical test would cost at a physician's office, making these tests more affordable as well as more convenient.

A home sperm test may help men determine if they have fertility problems.
A home sperm test may help men determine if they have fertility problems.

Researchers at the University of Virginia in the United States developed the technology for a home sperm test. The United States Food and Drug Administration approved the kits for sale in 2010. Men living in many other countries can also purchase home testing kits, though some countries have not approved the sale of these kits.

Hot tubs and baths lessen the life of sperm.
Hot tubs and baths lessen the life of sperm.

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Home sperm testing kits typically include a sample cup for collection and a solution to mix with the semen. Once the solution is mixed with the ejaculate, another substance is added to the liquid to determine the results. Most home sperm test results can be read within 10 minutes, and most companies claim their home tests are at least 97 percent accurate. Improper collection practices and mixing procedures, as well as reading results before or after the recommended time, can significantly reduce the accuracy of the test.

The semen collected for a home sperm test is typically done via masturbation, though a sample can be collected by pulling the penis out before ejaculation during sexual intercourse. Most testing kits recommend men abstain from ejaculating for at least two days before taking the test. Special condoms can also be used to collect the ejaculate. Collecting sperm in a typical condom for testing purposes is not recommended since the lubricants on many condoms are formulated to kill sperm.

Sperm count measures how many sperm are in 1 mL of semen. If a man has a low sperm count, he may have difficulty impregnating a woman. While a home sperm test is often a good place to start in determining male fertility problems, if a male's sperm count is low he should visit his doctor for further fertility tests. A formal medical semen analysis measures not only the sperm count, but also the volume, pH, and other chemical components of the ejaculate, as well as the size and shape of the sperm to check for abnormalities.

A sperm cell.
A sperm cell.

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