Sperm counts in western men are falling, and nobody is sure why. But relax – because help is here, with everything from home-testing kits to sperm-freezing
Sun 7 Jul 2019
Lads, lads, lads, hate to interrupt, but how’s your ejaculate? Would you struggle to fill half a teaspoon? And your concentration, please: are we talking 20m-plus little swimmers a millilitre? And how’s that motility? Are your spermatozoa wagging their flagella as if they can’t wait to get to that ovum – or listlessly floating around like dead tadpoles in a poorly executed classroom experiment? It’s not that embarrassing, surely?
If you are hoping to fertilise a human egg someday and haven’t given much thought to these matters … well, Big Sperm reckons it is time you did. A wave of tech startups, such as ExSeed, Yo, Trak and Legacy, are offering next-generation home sperm-testing technology and – in some cases – sperm-freezing services. And even if British men aren’t quite ready to start comparing their fertility concerns yet, these are clearly lurking at the back of many minds.
“I don’t think we realised how many men are ‘just curious’ about their reproductive health,” says Greg Sommer, the chief science officer of Trak, which offers home testing kits, sperm-freezing and even sperm-training regimes. “The product is primarily targeted at couples trying to get pregnant, but about a third of our customers are using Trak while not actively trying to conceive.” In some cases, those men will have a specific concern: a past injury, say, or a history of steroid use. But others are just driven by curiosity. Sommer finds it encouraging. “In the past, men have mostly shrugged off fertility as a women’s issue. Today, men and women recognise the role that men play.”