Sometimes when a couple is trying to conceive a child they will find out that one or both of them is experiencing some form of infertility issue. For the female partner this infertility can be caused by any number of reasons and the doctor will determine this cause and give possible solutions. For the male partner the fertility issue is pretty much always sperm based.
Testing sperm: the old way
In the past in order to test the male partner’s sperm the fertility specialist would perform a seminogram, commonly referred to as a semen analysis or a sperm count and the only tests on the market for male infertility. This is simply a matter of taking a sperm sample and counting the number of viable sperm as well as determining other characteristics of the sample under a microscope. Previous tests were always in a physicians office and performed by a physician.
Testing sperm: the new way
Modern testing of sperm is more involved than merely looking at them under a microscope and saying that 80% are viable and that the count is good. The new method of testing examines the epigenetic markers on DNA in order to determine male fertility vs. male infertility. The Episonic Seed test looks for epigenetic markers in the male sperm sample to compare to healthy sperm.
An epigenetic marker is a methyl group that binds on top (epi) of DNA. They control which genes are inactive or active. They can be altered by age or by external environmental factors.
Here is a video by Episonic for the new tests:
Testing at home (D2C)
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this new type of testing is that the sample is taken at home (D2C, direct to consumer) with the Seed test and then sent to a lab to determine poor embryonic development or low quality sperm. The lab analyzes the sample and then an online interactive report is created that the fertility specialist can then use to determine the best course of action.