Health News Review

An interesting and fairly informative piece about male infertility with a news hook based on a new fertility test.

Our Review Summary

This is a fairly thorough and thoughtful analysis of the reasons for male infertility and the pros and cons of this particular home fertility test for men. Our one wish was that there was a little more consideration given to the science behind the test itself.


Why This Matters

The story is bookended by the idea that the burden for addressing fertility issues is born mostly by women. If the statistics in the story are to be believed, men should be taking fertility issues just as seriously. This story provides ample information to help men address the right questions about infertility.


Criteria

Satisfactory

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Satisfactory

The story says, “The test costs about $40; the average cost of a semen analysis in a doctor’s office is about $100.” As a comparison, the story says, “There are also several at-home sperm analysis kits available online. They each include a microscope and cost at least $80.”

Not Satisfactory

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

This was the story’s one big failing. There is no attempt in the story to actually quantify how well the test works. What’s the sensitivity?  What’s the specificity?

Satisfactory

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Satisfactory

The story points out that the test might lull men into a false sense that they have no fertility problems. “A positive result from the SpermCheck Fertility test could give men a false sense that everything is all right, APA’s Imler said. It might even cause some men to delay a necessary doctor’s evaluation, Brannigan said.”

The story waited a little too long to make this point, but we were glad to see it included.

Satisfactory

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Satisfactory

The story does a nice job explaining what exactly the test does and its limitations. For example, it says, “As stated in the SpermCheck Fertility instructions, sperm count is not the only factor that contributes to male fertility. The test is not intended to be a complete semen analysis or an overall indicator of a man’s fertility, Lopez said.”

Satisfactory

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

There is no disease mongering in the story. Instead, the story provides some statistics about fertility. We wished they had been sourced beyond one “expert in male fertility.” The story says, “Approximately 15 percent of U.S. couples of reproductive age who are trying to conceive face infertility issues, said Brannigan, an expert in male fertility. Male infertility contributes to 50 percent of those cases, he said. Male infertility alone is the cause 30 percent of the time; a combination of male and female factors account for the other 20 percent.”

Satisfactory

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Satisfactory

The story extensively quotes Dr. Robert Brannigan, a urologist at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. And Brannigan provides much needed context for the test. For example: “The male reproductive system should not be oversimplified, Brannigan said. There are several characteristics of sperm alone — at least three that aren’t addressed by SpermCheck — that affect male fertility. In addition, hormones and the delivery of the sperm play a part.” The story also quotes Brad Imler, the president of the American Pregnancy Association, who provided good comments.

Satisfactory

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

The story provides a lengthy list of fertility problems that are not addressed by this home test, but, presumably, would be addressed in a fertility clinic.

Satisfactory

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

The story makes it clear that the test is new to the market but now available in retail stores.

Satisfactory

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The story claims “SpermCheck Fertility is the only FDA-approved home sperm test currently on the market and available in retail stores, Lopez said.” The story goes on to say, though, “At-home sperm tests are a fairly new idea, Imler said, but SpermCheck Fertility is not the first one. Four years ago an FDA-approved home test called Fertell, which is no longer for sale, offered an evaluation of both male and female fertility.”

Satisfactory

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Satisfactory

The story does not rely on a press release.

Total Score: 9 of 10 Satisfactory


We Welcome Comments

But please note: We will delete comments that include personal attacks, unfounded allegations, unverified facts, product pitches, profanity or any from anyone who doesn't list what appears to be an actual email address. We will also end any thread of repetitive comments. We don't give medical advice so we won't respond to questions asking for it. Please see more on our comments policy.