New Fertility Test For Men

For couples who want children, infertility can be a baffling and expensive problem. Infertility affects one in six couples who are trying to conceive and, in at least half of those, a male factor is a contributing cause. Now a new test offers help.

Reno Goodale's career keeps him focused on the lighter side of life. But there's nothing funny about the trouble he and wife Deborah have had trying to start a family.

"We had a really rough time getting pregnant," he tells Ivanhoe.

It took the Goodales five years and in vitro fertilization to have their first child, Alex. For the next three years, they couldn't have a second one and didn't know why.

Deborah says, "Those initial tests showed that there wasn't anything wrong with the appearance of the sperm or with the ability of the sperm to move. They were very mobile."

Turns out, Reno had plenty of sperm, but it took a new test called SCSA to reveal those sperm were sick.

Urologist Philip Werthman, M.D., of Century City Hospital in Los Angeles, tells Ivanhoe, "The SCSA test stands for Sperm Chromatin Structure Assay. And this is one of several tests that are available to measure the amount of damage in a man's sperm's DNA."

Dr. Werthman is on the forefront of these new DNA fragmentation tests. On this test, damaged sperm show up as orange.

“It could be an infection, it could be fever, toxin exposure, it could be a varicocele, which is a very common condition in men.  Many of these things are repairable,” he says.

Reno was treated with medication and vitamins, and it just may have worked. Deborah got pregnant.

Sperm fragmentation testing is only available through a small number of male fertility centers around the country. Insurance companies do not typically cover the cost of the testing. The cost is between $300 and $400.