Men wanting to know how potent their sperm are can now find out on the high street, if they’re willing to fork out £150.
Superdrug today started offering a ‘male fertility service’.
Men pay for a standard sperm test, similar to ones already sold at private clinics, which is delivered to their home.
Couriers pick up the samples, before whisking them away to a laboratory where sperm is put under a microscope.
Doctors look at the quantity, quality, motility — how quickly and efficiently sperm can move — and volume.
A breakdown of the results are then available within 48 hours, mirroring the time taken for a Covid PCR test to come back.
Men are able to access Superdrug’s medical team to ask any questions about their results and any next steps they should take.
Superdrug today started offering the high street’s first ever ‘male fertility service’. Men pay for a standard sperm test — similar to ones already sold at pharmacies — which is delivered to their home. Couriers pick up the samples, before whisking them away to a laboratory where sperm is put under a microscope
Superdrug said its test, which it claims is the first of its kind available on the high street, will help men ‘more easily access information about their own fertility and take greater control of their reproductive health’.
Men can get the tests, which cost £148, online. They are not available in-store.
Lab technicians produce a report on 22 different parameters.
These include how much sperm is in the sample, how well the sperm can move, how much sperm in contained within the semen and the quality of the sperm — which covers how many look normal and abnormal.
HOW COMMON IS INFERTILITY?
Infertility is when a couple cannot get pregnant (conceive) despite having regular unprotected sex.
Around 1 in 7 couples may have difficulty conceiving.
About 84 per cent of couples will conceive naturally within a year if they have regular unprotected sex — defined as every two to three days.
For couples who have been trying to conceive for more than three years without success, the likelihood of getting pregnant naturally within the next year is one in four, or less.
Britons are advised to speak to their GP if they were unable to get pregnant after one year of trying.
Infertility is usually caused by a lack of regular ovulation, poor quality semen, blocked or damaged fallopian tubes and endometriosis.
Fertility can also be impacted by age, weight, sexually transmitted infections, smoking, alcohol, exposure to pesticides and stress.
Fertility treatments include medicines to encourage regular ovulation, surgical procedures to repair fallopian tubes or scarring and assisted contraception, such as IVF.
Customers then have unlimited access to Superdrug’s online doctors — a team of ‘highly trained’ and General Medical Council-registered doctors — who share the results and answers questions about the test, results and next steps.
If results are abnormal, the medical team can provide advice to improve sperm quality or where to get help to boost the chance of conceiving.
Dr Babak Ashrafi, one of Superdrug’s online doctors, noted that the NHS advises people to try to conceive for 12 months before approaching their GP.
He said: ‘A year can make a difference to fertility levels so the sooner you know, the sooner you can act.
‘This is a discrete and convenient service and for people trying to conceive, these test results may help provide answers and signpost them in the right direction.’
Caris Newson, Superdrug’s healthcare director, said the new fertility testing service makes it ‘as convenient as possible’ for men to get advice, support and a ‘more informed understanding of their fertility’.
Superdrug said the results ‘gives both the patient and a clinician a clear understanding of the analysis of the sample and the implications on fertility, rather than simply finding out whether the sperm count is low’.
This means it can be used for referrals or reviews with a fertility specialist, as the test is ‘comparable to a World Health Organization or NHS test’, the pharmacy said.
Professor Allan Pacey, an andrologist at the University of Sheffield and former chair of the British Fertility Society, told MailOnline that home fertility tests for men, in addition to those provided at clinics, is a good move.
He said the approach makes it more likely that a man will produce a semen sample, doesn’t require time off work and may be greener as less travel is involved.
Clinics often require men to produce samples there and then, where they are analysed.
However, Professor Pacey said it is unclear which system or testing method will be the most successful.
He said: ‘Over the years there have been a number of different approaches to home sperm testing launched, some of which are still around and others which have come and gone.
‘I think it is true, that the service being offered by Superdrug is the first in which samples have been picked up by courier from the man’s home and (presumably) shipped off to a lab somewhere.
‘I have no idea whether this will work, produce good test results and be a commercial success. Only time will tell.
‘The cost of £148 sounds about on a par with what I would expect a semen analysis to cost in a private lab, so their margins must be pretty tight.
‘Men can, of course, get a free semen analysis on the NHS but only if they have been trying to conceive with their partner for 12 months without success.
‘A key part of this for me is the aftercare and it is reassuring to see that the men have unlimited access to discuss their results with the Superdrug doctors.
‘However, I would want to know what training they have to deal with male fertility issues which can be quite complex. However, overall I wish them success with the venture.’
Sperm-checking tests are available at Boots, Lloyds Pharmacy and online already for around £30. They claim to give accurate results within minutes.
However, these just check sperm quality and count. Experts have previously told MailOnline that they fail to put results into context.
They warned any test results from tests sold online have to be ‘carefully confirmed and discussed with healthcare professionals’.
Superdrug’s offering comes amid a collapse in global sperm levels.
Reproductive experts have raised the alarm that falling sperm counts could ‘threaten human survival’.
Dr Shanna Swan, an epidemiologist at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, authored a ground-breaking 2017 study that revealed that global sperm counts have dropped by more than half over the past four decades.
She warned that ‘everywhere chemicals’, such as phthalates found in toiletries, food packaging and children’s toys, are to blame.
The chemicals cause hormonal imbalance which can trigger ‘reproductive havoc’, she said.
Factors including pollution, smoking and rising obesity rates may also play a role, experts say.