Booster Shots

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Did the vasectomy work?

May 15, 2009 | 11:59 am

Women have had access to home ovulation test kits for years, but more options are becoming available to men to measure their lack, or abundance, of sperm.

MenFertile In March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first at-home test kit for men to use aftera vasectomy to make sure they have achieved sterility. Called SpermCheck Vasectomy, the test measures a protein called SP-10 that is present in each sperm head. The test may be useful because sperm can remain in the male reproductive tract for weeks or months after a vasectomy. Men are advised to follow up with their doctors to determine if the operation was successful. But a study in the British Journal of Urology showed high numbers of patients fail to follow up with their doctors. The kit will be available in drug stores by the end of the year and is available now from doctors or from the manufacturer, ContraVac.

The company also expects to release a home test kit to assess sperm counts for men who are hoping to father a child. A couple of home sperm test kits are already on the market. ContraVac is also developing a test kit that will be used to help evaluate the effectiveness of male contraceptives.

The evolution in assessing male fertility has been aided by 25 years of research by John Herr, a professor of cell biology at the University of Virginia. Herr and his colleagues identified the SP-10 protein.

-- Shari Roan

Photo: John Herr, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Research in Contraceptive and Reproductive Health. Credit: University of Virginia