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What to look for when buying a home sperm test

Semen analysis

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There are many reasons why men might want to test at home rather than at a clinic. Maybe they’re right to the start of their journey and aren’t ready to commit to a clinic yet. Or perhaps they find the pressure of rising to the occasion in a cold, uninviting clinic cubicle a bit too much! Either way, there are lots of positives to testing your sperm at home – but be careful of where you’re buying your test from and what they measure.

There are several male fertility home test kits available on the market, both in pharmacies and online. Most of these tests claim to indicate whether your sperm quality is low or normal. But how good are these tests?


Do at-home male fertility tests work?

Well this depends on two things 1) What the test measures, and 2) how accurately it’s measurement is.

Most certified sperm tests on the market currently have pretty high accuracy, meaning that when you get a specific result you can be quite sure this is also what the laboratory would have found. But – if your test is only checking for certain parameters, it doesn’t matter how accurate it is, it still won’t give you a full picture of your fertility.

The NHS says that a sperm test should measure at least concentration (also called “count”) and motility. Unfortunately, the majority of cheap at-home sperm tests you can buy at a supermarket or a pharmacy only measure your sperm count. In a post-Covid world, there is a growing popularity for cheap lateral flow style sperm tests that claim they can give you an indication of your fertility, but again, they only look at your sperm count and ask for no context around your lifestyle factors or health history.

The problem is that the number of sperm you have is not enough to tell you whether you are fertile or not. The sperm cells’ ability to move (motility) also is very important. The same goes for checking the ejaculate volume. This can indicate underlying conditions that may block or prevent the full ejaculate volume.

Think of it this way. A cheap test from the supermarket may tell you that you have a normal sperm count and you could carry on with your fertility journey assuming everything is fine. But what if all of those sperm cells were dead? Or not swimming? You would still be struggling to conceive and would have no idea why.


What to look for in a home sperm test

When searching for or buying a home sperm test, it’s important to be aware of the following:

Ideally, look for tests that measure Total Motile Sperm Count

When going for a sperm test, it should at least measure sperm count and motility. Ideally, you want them to measure volume too so they can give you an accurate Total Motile Sperm Count reading. Total Motile Sperm Count is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the best indicator of male factor fertility. It tells you the number of moving sperm cells moving forward per ejaculate.

Be aware of the accuracy

Controlling the accuracy of a test can be hard for people who are not medically trained. The easiest way is to look if the test has a CE certification as an In Vitro Diagnostics device (IVD). This ensures the device has been validated thoroughly and is safe to use. If the test is certified, the manufacturer will have to provide the accuracy in the instructions for use.

Make sure to use The World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines as a reference

Some home testing kits classify a low sperm count as under 20 million cells per ml. According to the WHO (international guidelines), a sperm count above 15M/ml is normal. Clinically speaking it’s difficult to address what it means if you have under 20 M/ml as it’s not normally used in the clinic.
If home tests measure several sperm parameters, it’s important that the reference is always the WHO.

Check your swimmers more than once

Because sperm quality naturally varies and lifestyle factors can affect sperm quality, it’s important that you choose a test where you can check your sperm quality a few times. We recommend testing the quality of sperm two times within 10 days to be sure of your baseline quality. This is also the advice from the WHO.


Fertility Guidance is important!

Understanding a sperm test result can be a little difficult. Besides choosing a user-friendly home sperm test, it’s also a good idea to find a test with a good explanation of the test result and what to do afterwards if the result isn’t optimal.

If your sperm quality is low (also when re-testing), make sure to contact your general practitioner or a fertility specialist for medical help. When taking the ExSeed test you can even arrange a call with one of our experts straight away to discuss your result and next steps.

Together with the ExSeed app the ExSeed home sperm test offers accurate and quantitative sperm testing as well as support and resources to help you on your journey!

Download the free ExSeed app today and find out more.

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Wearing tight pants and underwear

Studies show that men who wear looser underwear have higher sperm concentration and total sperm count compared to men who wear tighter underwear. So, lose the tight clothes and wear something loose to give your testicles some air.

CONCLUSION: learn more about how heat can affect sperm quality here.


Besides higher mortality rate and various diseases, stress is associated with low sperm quality. Stress is known to be associated with lower testosterone levels and oxidative stress with both playing an essential role in producing and maintaining healthy sperm cells.

CONCLUSION: If you feel stressed, we recommend you get some help so you can have a balanced mental health. For a stress management guide, download the ExSeed app for free and start your personalized action plan today.

Physical activity

Scientific studies show that men who are physically active have better semen parameters than men who are inactive. Fertility specialists also state that regular physical activity has beneficial impact on sperm fertility parameters and such a lifestyle can enhance the fertility status of men.

Prioritizing exercise can help improve your overall health and result in healthy, fast swimming sperm cells that have good chances of fertilizing an egg.

CONCLUSION: Try incorporating exercise in your weekly schedule to you ensure exercising at least twice weekly. We recommend a combination of cardio training and strength exercise. Read more about exercise and male fertility on our blog.


Fast Food
Processed foods damage the health of sperm-producing cells and cause oxidative stress, which lead to poorer sperm quality. Heavy consumption of junk food (every week) can increase the likelihood of infertility since men who consume vast amounts of unhealthy food are at risk of having poor sperm quality. Besides harming your fertility, junk food enlarges your waistline, harms your cardiovascular system, kidneys, and more.

Eating more fruit and vegetables can increase your sperm concentration and motility. It’s important that you consume a healthy diet filled with antioxidants and that you eat vegetables every day. Foods such as apricots and red bell peppers are high in vitamin A, which improves male fertility by nurturing healthier sperm. Men who are deficient in this vitamin tend to have slow and sluggish sperm.

Sugary snacks/beverages: several times a week Excessive consumption of high sugar items can lead to oxidative stress, which negatively impacts testosterone levels and sperm motility. Sugary snacks and beverages are also highly associated with obesity and low fertility.
CONCLUSION: To boost sperm quality, stay away from fast food, processed food, and sugary snacks or beverages. You need to implement a healthy prudent diet filled with necessary superfoods needed for good sperm production. Check out our guide to Male Fertility Superfoods. For personalized guidance and support on how you can start improving your sperm health, check out the Bootcamp.


Direct heat can inhibit optimal sperm production and cause Sperm DNA damage. Sperm cells like environments that are a couple of degrees lower than body temperature. Avoid overheating from warm blankets, seat warmers, heat from your laptop, hot showers, and saunas.

Cigarette smoking

The exposure to tobacco smoke has significant negative effects on semen quality. The damage of cigarettes and nicotine of course depends on how many cigarettes you smoke per day and for how long, but even low usage (up to 10 cigarettes / day) can inhibit healthy sperm production.  

CONCLUSION: Stay as far away from cigarette smoking as possible if you care about your general health and your fertility. Read more here.

Cell phone

When you have your cell phone in your front pocket, your testicles are exposed to electromagnetic radiation, which studies have shown to damage the sperm cells. Put your phone in the back pocket of your pants or in your jacket pocket.


There is a clear association between obesity and reduced sperm quality. At least part of the reason for this is that obese men may have abnormal reproductive hormonal profiles, which can impair sperm production and lead to infertility. 

A BMI higher than 30 can lead to several processes in the body (overheating, increase in oxidative stress in the testes, sperm DNA damage, erectile dysfunction) that can have a negative impact on male fertility. This can result in problems when trying to conceive.  

CONCLUSION: BMI is one of the risk factors that influence semen quality and, for example, sperm motility.  


A beer or glass of wine now and then do not really harm sperm quality. But excess alcohol drinking (more than 20 units per week) can reduce the production of normally formed sperm needed for a successful pregnancy.

CONCLUSION: If you want to stay safe, stay under 14 units of alcohol per week. For more information on how alcohol can affect male fertility, take a look at our blog: “Alcohol and Sperm Quality”.


Studies show that women younger than 35 and men younger than 40 have a better chance of getting pregnant. Men can produce sperm cells almost through their entire life, but the sperm cell DNA is more fragile and prone to damage after the age of 40.

As men age, their testes tend to get smaller and softer resulting in a decline in sperm quality and production. These changes are partly because of an age-related decrease in testosterone level, which plays a very important role in sperm

production. Higher male age (>40 years) is not only associated with a decline in sperm production but also with increased sperm DNA fragmentation and worsened morphology (shape) and motility (movement). These negative effects make the sperm cells less qualified for egg fertilization.

CONCLUSION: with an age under 40, you shouldn’t have to worry much about age as a factor in itself. However, studies have shown a slow decline after the age of 30-35 years

and if you are above 40 years of age, your sperm quality can be affected due to increased sperm DNA damage resulting in a decrease of sperm motility and concentration. Remember that you cannot evaluate the quality of a sperm sample by just looking at it – this requires a sperm analysis.