Like a lot of Americans, I have a very touchy relationship with doctors. Who should I go see? Will they refer me elsewhere into a long tangle of inconvenient appointments? And most importantly, will it be covered by my insurance, and how much will it cost?
And for those of us who are sexually active, learning about your sperm count maybe something you’d like to know, but not enough to navigate the complexities of the American medical system.
I recently tried the Ro Sperm Kit, an at-home sperm test and analysis kit that is priced at $199. As I’ve entered my mid-thirties the idea of having children has become more and more alluring (despite, well, everything going on in the world) and I’m in a relationship with a woman who I could see being a great mother, so I was very curious about my ability to have children. Thus, the Ro Sperm Kit came along at a perfect time.
It’s a blue temperature-controlled box with a cup inside, and a return shipping label for expedited UPS to insure quick transport to their testing lab, and that’s basically it. Very simple.
The most challenging part about the whole process is that you can’t ejaculate for 72 hours before you add your sample to the cup. At least, it was challenging for me. But you must abstain in order to achieve maximal results, according to a useful pamphlet that runs through the basic how-to of sperm kit use.
Once you’ve survived your 72-hour pleasure deprivation period, you open up the blue box to find a small cup inside with a screw cap. You ejaculate into this cup , close it securely, and press a button on top, which releases preservatives into your sample. Return the cup to the temperature controlled box. Zip tie the box shut. Slap the shipping label on there, and take it to UPS, who will ship it to the lab overnight.
I had my results in two days in an easy-to-read email. They’re broken down into three categories: sperm count, sperm concentration, and the very important sperm motility.
A healthy sperm count range according to the lab results page is 39-298 million sperm per sample. A healthy concentration is 15-259 million sperm per milliliter. And a healthy motility percentage is 40-81% of sperm being motile.
Sperm motility means how many of your sperm are swimming, an indicator of how fertile you will be—assuming you have a healthy sperm count. About 15% of men have counts that fall below an average sperm count, according to Michael Eisenberg, a Professor of Urology at Stamford University and a urologist who specializes in male fertility.
“It’s sort of a numbers game, you want as any sperm as possible, and as many moving sperm as possible,” he told me. But he emphasized the importance of variability from test to test, so if you see numbers from your at-home kit that alarm you, it’s not the end of the world.
“We don’t want to make too much judgement on a single sample,” he said.
Courtesy of Ro
My numbers showed no cause for concern. And if they did? It sounds like there are ways to get your count up.
“Anything that’s good for your heart is good for your fertility,” said Dr. Eisenberg, including things like exercise, a healthy diet and keeping your bodyweight in a good place.
And the Ro kit isn’t just for testing. As a part of the $199, they will store three vials of your sperm for a year, and then it’s $99 per year after that with a $299 withdrawal fee should you choose to use it for any fertility-related procedures.
Overall, it’s a very easy way to check your sperm numbers, and have some in the bank for later.
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