Doctors and scientists from the University of Birmingham and Genosis, a medical devices company in the UK, have developed a 'fertility test kit' that can be used - both by men and women - at home. The kit is called 'Fertell' and is designed to measure fertility levels in couples trying to conceive and highlight any problems they may be having.
Men will be able to test the number of active sperm in their semen, said Professor Chris Barratt, at the ESHRE (European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology) conference last week. Sperm is deposited into a container which replicates the temperature and conditions inside a woman's body, and the sperm that survives the conditions are separated and counted. If there are more than 10 million active sperm per millilitre, a red line shows, telling the man that he is adequately fertile.
Women can measure the levels of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) in their urine, in a similar way to how pregnancy tests are used, in order to find out how many eggs there are in their ovaries. A coloured line is produced, the intensity of which is compared to a reference line. If the intensity of colour equals or is greater than the reference, FSH levels are high, which means that the number of eggs in the ovary is diminished.
The two techniques have been tested on 118 men and 243 women, and larger scale clinical trials are being planned by Genosis. It is hoped that the kit will be available over the counter in early 2002.