Couple anxious about their fertility can feel a bit relaxed now. Genosis Inc, a US firm, has developed a new at-home fertility screening test, called Fertell. The test has his and hers components — a screening test for men that is the first at-home device to measure the concentration of motile sperm, and a test for women that measures a hormone considered a marker of egg quality.
The availability of the two-in-one test helps drive home the message that both men and women can contribute to infertility, experts say. "It takes two to have a baby, as silly as that sounds," said Dr. Harry Fisch, director of the Male Reproductive Center at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center.
The test results could give couples early warning that they should see a doctor, Dr. Fisch said. "Couples often don't appreciate this," he said. "So many times the woman goes through all these tests, and the guy doesn't even have a semen analysis." The test for the male requires a semen sample; it assesses the ability of sperm to swim through a solution similar to cervical mucus, as well as the number able to do so, said Dr. Keith B. Isaacson, an associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School who is on the board of medical advisers at Genosis, the firm behind the test. Results could be out in just 80 minutes.
The female fertility test is a urine stick, much like a home pregnancy test, that measures the level of follicle stimulating hormone on the third day of the menstrual cycle. An abnormally high level is an indicator that the ovarian reserve, indicating egg quality, is low. The result is available in 30 minutes.
The tests are not definitive and do not substitute for a thorough professional evaluation. They screen for main problems, experts say, but will not pick up all fertility-related difficulties. About one million American women seek medical help for fertility-related troubles each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The problem lies with the woman 40 percent of the time, with the man 40 percent of the time, and with both 20 percent of the time, experts say.
"Most people are surprised to hear that almost 50 percent of the time, it's a male factor," Dr. Isaacson said. But, he added, women are still more likely to initiate treatment. "My guess is the female partner is the one who's going to buy this and encourage the guy to use it." Fertell, which has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, goes on sale today. No prescription is necessary, and it is expected to cost around $100.