Ok yes, talking about male fertility is a bit awkward. But as any parent or want-to-be parent can attest, the conception phase, while often “fun,” can also be a bit stressful. Bringing a child into the world is definitely NOT something to be taken lightly or as an afterthought. And, with people waiting longer to have children, there are risk factors associated with conception and childbirth. I’m not a physician nor even pretend to know much about this topic, other than the fact that I’m happily blessed with three teenaged daughters. But three children was the limit that my wife and I decided on, and, after the third, we decided that I would be “snipped” and have a vasectomy. (Ok yeah, probably too much information here, but I have to provide some context for this review.) So, when I was contacted by Trak to write about the Trak Male Fertility Testing System, I was initially reluctant, just because of this sensitive (and awkward) topic. But after reading more about Trak, I decided this is an important issue to discuss (*Disclosure below.)
But, then I thought some more about this and realized that my brand, HighTechDad, talks about technology and parenting. And, I thought back to when my family was just starting and young, and we were trying to conceive children. And lastly, how my wife and I were extremely lucky to not have any issues with the conception process. With these things in mind, I realized that others might not be so lucky. And, according to a Trak Mens Health and Lifestyle Report, the average sperm count has fallen by over 50% since 1973 and doesn’t seem to be leveling off. It’s a crisis that no-one seems to really be talking about. Perhaps because it is, as I said, an awkward topic. Or maybe since the focus has mainly been on the female side of fertility. Or, because guys just might not want to schedule an appointment with their doctor to do a sperm count. Do note: the Trak survey does point to some other potential causes like stress at work, work environmental factors, how much sleep a man gets, the type of food men eat, exercise, and consumption of regulated substances (e.g., pot, alcohol, or smoking).
Regardless, knowing more about your body does help to identify if there are conception problems. And, for factors that you, as the guy, have control over, changing them can actually have a positive effect on your sperm count. And, in turn, a higher sperm count does potentially increase the possibility of conception. But that all circles back to getting to know what your sperm count actually is.
This is where the Trak Male Fertility Testing System comes in to play. It’s an at-home test, FDA-approved with lab-level accuracy, that gives you a result on your sperm count as being Low, Moderate, or Optimal for conception. While at-home pregnancy tests have been available for decades, a male fertility test of this nature is new. But I’m not surprised actually. You can get your DNA tested via an at-home kit (but you have to send it off). Similarly, you can test food intolerance, but with that as well you have to send off to get your results. With the Trak system, the entire test is done at home, and you get the results (at home) in less than an hour. It’s confidential. And, if you do choose to modify your health factors, you can test your progress over time. The system comes with the ability to do four tests.
How the Trak Male Fertility Test Works
So, just like any of my gadget reviews, it’s important to understand what you get and how it works. After all, Trak is a type of gadget that you can use at home. It’s also important to note, as I mentioned, I have had a vasectomy which means that my sperm count should fall into the Low category (otherwise, I’m going to have to have a little chat with my doctor). But, sometimes vasectomies actually fail, so even if you are snipped, doing a test like this might eliminate potential little surprises. And, vasectomies might not cut the flow of swimmers off completely, it may actually reduce the count to lower your odds. Regardless, again, I’m not a doctor or urologist here so it’s always important to seek expert advice.
First, let’s talk about what’s in the Trak Male Fertility kit. You get:
- 1 battery powered centrifuge engine
- 4 prop pouches
- 4 semen collection cups with lids
- 8 droppers
- 8 “Seal before spin” stickers
- 1 bottle of control solution
- 2 AA batteries
- Owner’s Guide
- 27-page Man’s Guide to Reproductive Health
This kit does give you the ability to do up to 4 tests so you can, as I said, track your progress. Sometimes even when you “collect a specimen” can affect the sperm count, so it is nice to have the option to collect more at other times available.
First off, while there is a sort of Quick Start guide, I highly recommend reading through the Owner’s Guide completely to really understand the process. All in all, however, the directions are extremely clear and easy to follow. And yes, as I mentioned, I did actually do the test.
I would recommend getting everything all set up prior. That includes putting the batteries into the centrifuge engine. Whether you get your specimen with your partner around or not is really up to you. No guidance there from me. But, you will need to get a collection cup and lid, as well as open one of the test accessory pouches.
In the pouch, you will have 2 droppers (there are 2 per pouch) as well as the “prop” which is actually a little propeller that later holds the sample and goes onto the centrifuge engine. I’d recommend waiting to open the prop pouch until after you have collected the sample.
But this is what the prop looks like. You will, eventually, remove the metal foil seal that says “remove to add sample” but that comes later.
I won’t go into much detail about the specimen collection process. But I will say to wash your hands prior and keep the collection cup clean. Once the sample is collected, you will need to swirl it around for a bit and then let it sit for 30 minutes or so to “liquify”.
After the 30 minutes are done, you will swirl it around again and take one of the droppers to collect the sample. You will use this dropper to put the sample into the center of the prop (after you remove the foil).
After that, you need to put one of the “Seal before spin” stickers on top of the hole where you put the sample in.
And then, you take the prop and securely press it down into the centrifuge. It does take a little bit of force to secure it but this ensures that the prop spins in the correct way.
Once you close the lid of the centrifuge engine, it should automatically start to spin. If the prop is not correctly positioned, it won’t spin correctly and you may get a red light on the engine. If it IS in correctly, the light will be green and it will spin. The prop will spin for about 6 minutes.
Once it has completed and the prop stops spinning, you need to read the results within 3 minutes to ensure accuracy. The nice thing about Trak is that it actually shows three levels, as I mentioned, Low, Moderate, and Optimal. Low means the sperm counts is 15M/mL or below, Moderate is between 15 and 55M/mL, and Optimal for conception is above 55M/mL. You simply need to look directly above the prop at the indicators.
The kit does include a control solution to test but I didn’t do that test. It is recommended to do the test again periodically and at different times of the day as that can affect the results. This is important especially if you are trying to conceive. Some statistics provided to me by Trak are eye-opening:
- Men contribute to half of all infertility cases
- The majority of men have a suboptimal sperm count
- Sperm counts have been plummeting, down 52% from 1973 to 2011
Obviously, Trak’s product is here to help couples conceive, especially since so much of the focus during the process tends to be on the woman. But, since half of the infertility cases come from men, this is a huge factor to consider, especially since men’s reproductive health can be improved. If you are considering starting or growing your family, be sure to look at the Trak guide called “Don’t Cook Your Balls – A Man’s Guide to Reproductive Health.” A copy of the guide comes with each kit. There is also a site of the same name: DontCookYourBalls.com which has lots of great and relevant information about male fertility.
Also, there is a companion smartphone app that lets you track your sperm counts over time. And there is a 120-point health and lifestyle questionnaire to help you assess any risks you may have as well as make some recommendations for improvement.
The Trak Male Fertility Testing System retails for $199.99 (and is available on Amazon for $199.99 as well). You can also get 2-Pack testing refills for $49.99 (on Amazon for $49.99 also). There is no doctor’s prescription required and IT is eligible for reimbursement from some health savings and flex spending accounts (HSA/FSA). If you order from Trak, use coupon code: TECHDAD25 to receive $25 off your order.
My wife and I were lucky to be able to conceive relatively easily. (Pregnancy was a different story.) We did start conceiving at an earlier age (I was in my late 20’s). But I have heard all sorts of stories about conception issues from friends and acquaintances. Being able to identify or eliminate potential issues like low sperm count or health risk factors that affect sperm count is definitely extremely helpful. The Trak testing system enables men to take control of their fertility, measure it, and understand it better, all in the privacy of the home and without a doctor’s visit. Do note: the test should NOT replace regular doctor visits, especially if you are trying to conceive. It does, however, make you much more informed.
Disclosure: I have a material connection because I received a gift, sample of a product or service, and/or monetary compensation for consideration in preparing to review the product/service and write this content. I was/am not expected to return this item or gift after my review period. All opinions within this article are my own and are typically not subject to the editorial review from any 3rd party. Also, some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate” or “advertising” links. These may be automatically created or placed by me manually. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item (sometimes but not necessarily the product or service being reviewed), I will receive a small affiliate or advertising commission. More information can be found on my About page.
HTD says: Having a private, at-home test to quickly and easily measure sperm count is a blessing for those people who are trying to conceive. Male fertility and reproductive health are important topics to understand as well as monitor, and the Trak Male Fertility Testing System empowers men to learn more about their reproductive health.