Shifting the future of male fertility testing; Dr. Smith leads collaborative study validating mail-in semen analysis testing

Submitted by UCSF Urology on January 12, 2021 at 2:26 pm
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Recently published in Fertility and Sterility, “Development and validation of a novel mail-in semen analysis system and the correlation between one hour and delayed semen analysis testing.” Dr. Smith, Director of Male Reproductive Health in the Urology Department at UCSF, led a team of clinicians from USC, Yale, and Hackensack Medical Center,in close collaboration with the bioengineering team at Fellow Health (meetfellow.com) to develop and validate a mail-in semen analysis kit.

Obtaining a semen analysis is a critical first step in evaluating a man’s fertility and standard World Health Organization guidelines recommend the semen sample be produced at the lab or received by the lab within one hour of sample production. From a patient’s perspective, producing a sample in the lab is often uncomfortable, embarrassing, and anxiety provoking. Logistically, it can be very difficult to find a lab to perform this test. Particularly during the COVID pandemic, men are extremely reluctant to come into a lab. In many parts of the country, access to male reproductive health testing is very limited. This mail-in system offers men easy access to high quality semen testing from the comfort of their homes.

This collaboration between UCSF, Fellow Health, and 3 other major academic medical centers accelerated the development of this novel and high-quality tool. In the future, a mail-in semen analysis opens doors to new research areas and may break down barriers in access to male reproductive care.

“Ensuring our patients have the highest quality care is pivotal to our mission. This new way of fertility testing will optimize the patient experience. We are enthusiastic about the collaborative effort driven by Dr. Smith, a leader in Reproductive Health, and look forward to the seeing the impact this will have on the future of fertility screening.” Says Dr. Pruthi, Chair of the Department of Urology.

Since validating this test, research groups are beginning to utilize this mail-in technique to conduct research: At San Francisco General Hospital, investigators are using this tool to study and break down barriers in access to male reproductive care. With collaborators in the Naval Medical Center in Virginia, researchers are investigating the reproductive health of sailors aboard an aircraft carrier. This tool also offers the opportunity to study potential male reproductive effects of new or established medical therapies where obtaining a standard lab-based semen analysis is logistically extremely difficult.

“I’m really thrilled about Fellow’s newly available semen analysis kit. It has made ordering and getting a semen analysis so much easier for me and my staff. Patients love being able to do the semen analysis from home instead of in a lab in addition to the fact that they don’t have to take time off work to get it done. I’m also really excited about its potential to make it easier to do new research on understudied areas like the effect of new cancer medications on sperm quality.” Says Dr. Smith