Counting Sperm, Discreetly

Counting Sperm, Discreetly

The Trak Male Fertility Testing System

Nearly half of all infertility cases are due to male factor issues. Whilst much has been written and developed about female infertility, most men are still in the dark when it comes to their own reproductive health. The Trak Male Fertility System is a discreet sperm counting tool and a first step for men who wish to become fathers and for those interested in monitoring their reproductive health.

Daniela and Charles from Dreaming of Baby speak with Greg Sommer, Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer at Trak Fertility, to find out more how this fertility tracking system works.

Daniela GS: Good morning, Greg, and welcome to Dreaming of Baby. We’re looking forward to getting to know more about the new male fertility tracking tool Trak and how this will further help individuals wishing to conceive.

Greg Sommer, Trak Fertility: Thanks, great to be here!

Daniela GS: As Cofounder and Chief Scientific Officer at Trak Fertility, how would you best describe the Trak Male Fertility System?

Greg Sommer, Trak Fertility: Trak is a tool for men who want to be dads. Men contribute to nearly half of all infertility cases, yet most products and services in this space focus on women and men are often overlooked or bypassed altogether. Trak allows men to measure and track their sperm count in the comfort and privacy of home early on in a couple’s fertility journey, and provides them with education and personalized guidance on steps they can take to improve their sperm production. Male fertility is a numbers game – more sperm can lead to faster time to conception. Trak helps men close the feedback loop to optimize their sperm count during this important time in their life.

The System comprises an instrument – the Trak Engine, which you can think of as a mini centrifuge – and disposable test cartridges called Props that measure sperm count with the accuracy of a lab test. The kit includes everything you need to conduct the tests at home. We also have a free mobile app called Trak: Sperm Health and Fertility. The app allows users to log and track their sperm results, and also receive a comprehensive health and lifestyle assessment to identify potential fertility risk factors and recommendations to boost sperm production.

MEN CONTRIBUTE TO NEARLY HALF OF ALL INFERTILITY CASES, YET MOST PRODUCTS AND SERVICES IN THIS SPACE FOCUS ON WOMEN AND MEN ARE OFTEN OVERLOOKED OR BYPASSED ALTOGETHER.

Daniela GS: For men seeking pregnancy, how often should they be monitoring their sperm count?

Greg Sommer, Trak Fertility: We recommend that men test monthly, outside of their partner’s fertile window. It can take 2 or 3 months to start seeing meaningful changes in sperm count.

Daniela GS: And how many test cartridges would one system include?

Greg Sommer, Trak Fertility: The System comes with 4 tests. We also sell a 2-test refill pack.

TRAK ALLOWS MEN TO MEASURE AND TRACK THEIR SPERM COUNT IN THE COMFORT AND PRIVACY OF HOME EARLY ON IN A COUPLE’S FERTILITY JOURNEY, AND PROVIDES THEM WITH EDUCATION AND PERSONALIZED GUIDANCE ON STEPS THEY CAN TAKE TO IMPROVE THEIR SPERM PRODUCTION.

Daniela GS: From your research, did it transpire that men are seeking such tools early on in their ‘trying for baby’ journey?

Greg Sommer, Trak Fertility: Yes. When we started we were overwhelmed by how many men were reaching out with interest and support. This is a problem that millions of men are quietly struggling with every year, but there’s a growing awareness that male infertility is a common problem and we find that men are increasingly wanting to be involved, engaged, and supportive as couples try to start their family. Unfortunately, there are very few options for men prior to formal medical evaluation by a specialist.

 

Daniela GS: Why do you think there’s such a stigma attached to male infertility issues?

Greg Sommer, Trak Fertility: There are a lot of reasons. Generally, men aren’t comfortable or used to talking about their reproductive health. For one thing you’re talking about sperm, semen, testicles, and other things outside of men’s comfort zones. But these are also things that guys don’t really think about or pay attention to prior to trying to conceive. Young men don’t see a physician regularly the same way women do, so they’re not as comfortable discussing their bodies and health. There’s also a strong psychological component to it, in that identifying fertility issues can be a hit to guys’ egos.

Daniela GS: Dreaming of Baby co-founder, Charles, has been following this interview and would love to ask more questions. From my end, it’s been a pleasure speaking with you!

Charles: Hi Greg, Charles here. Amazing product you have here as a fellow male, I truly appreciate the importance of this product. I have spent some time in an embryologists lab, so I am quite curious about Trak. If I understand correctly, the testing results in three potential answers to the sperm count level, is that correct?

Greg Sommer, Trak Fertility: Yes, Trak measures sperm count as Low, Moderate, or Optimal for conception based on World Health Organization guidelines and clinical research that ties higher sperm count with faster time to conception.

Charles: Once the individual becomes aware of his level, as you stated above (especially if they find themselves to be in the low spectrum), there is a psychological component; does the app make recommendations and provide further reading for a male’s journey to parenthood?

Greg Sommer, Trak Fertility: Yes, the app and the written material in the kit provide insight and recommendations to help the user interpret the results and take action. For men who test low, there is a stronger likelihood that the couple will face fertility issues and we recommend that he consult a urologist who specializes in male reproductive medicine.

Charles: There will inevitably be a few nay sayers when it comes to home testing’s accuracy; to put our readers mind to rest, what types of qualitative testing has been done in this regard?

Greg Sommer, Trak Fertility: Sure. Trak is an FDA approved medical device that is just as accurate as the gold standard lab test. We conducted a 3-site, 240 patient blinded clinical trial to compare the device’s performance to the lab test, and to prove that it is easy to use and understand by untrained users.

SPERM ARE AN IMPORTANT BIOMARKER NOT ONLY FOR FERTILITY OUTCOMES, BUT FOR MEN’S OVERALL HEALTH AS WELL.

Charles: Wow, that is impressive. The importance of the product is self-evident for people seeking to have children, is there any benefit in younger males not yet starting their journey to fatherhood to use the test. Are there conditions that caught early on can be better treated?

Greg Sommer, Trak Fertility: Absolutely. I think you’re going to see growing awareness over the next few years that sperm are an important biomarker not only for fertility outcomes, but for men’s overall health as well. For example, low sperm count and infertility are associated with higher risk of chronic diseases and mortality. Many of the urologists that we work with are advocating for semen analysis to be included as part of men’s regular physical exams. The earlier you can flag potential concerns, the better your chances of treatment success – both for fertility and general health outcomes. We also see that young men are increasingly curious about their future fertility status due to issues they have early in life such as undescended testicles, injuries, and known genetic abnormalities.

Charles: In testing and based on your experience, what factors should be taken into consideration initially when someone gets a low result? Do factors such as heat, and last ejaculation play a role?

WHILE SPERM ARE COMPLEX CELLS DEFINED BY SEVERAL PARAMETERS, SPERM COUNT SPECIFICALLY IS TIED TO CHANCES OF CONCEPTION, AND IS A PARAMETER THAT CAN BE DRAMATICALLY IMPACTED THROUGH RELATIVELY MINOR HEALTH AND LIFESTYLE CHANGES.

Greg Sommer, Trak Fertility: It’s a complex issue, no doubt. Sperm counts are affected by many factors including the ones you identified. Abstinence time (days since last ejaculation) is important not only for test accuracy, but also to help optimize sperm quality when the couple is trying to conceive. We separate the health and lifestyle factors into 6 categories in the app: Wellness, Diet, Exercise, Heat, Stress, and Toxins. Each of these can be very important and our goal is to identify the most pressing risk factors for our users.

Charles: I understand this product measures sperm count; does it also measure motility?

Greg Sommer, Trak Fertility: We don’t measure motility or other sperm quality factors such as morphology, pH, DNA integrity, etc. It’s important to emphasize that Trak is not intended to replace a laboratory semen analysis – Trak is meant to help men conveniently measure and track sperm count early on from home. While sperm are complex cells defined by several parameters, sperm count specifically is tied to chances of conception, and is a parameter that can be dramatically impacted through relatively minor health and lifestyle changes.

Charles: That makes sense so Trak is the first line of testing discreetly for men in a sense?

Greg Sommer, Trak Fertility: Yes, but testing is only one part of this process (as you know). We see Trak as a way to help engage men in the fertility process earlier than is typically done. Fertility is a “his and hers” pursuit – we encourage couples to work together as a team to shift the statistics into their favor. That includes testing, but it also includes communication, education, and commitment.

Charles: If you had to tell men considering TRAK or who for any reason are curious about their sperm count why TRAK was made exactly for them, what would you tell them about why the product was created?

Greg Sommer, Trak Fertility: Trak was built for men who want to be dads. For too long, men have been overlooked in the fertility process. Men are naturally doer’s and fixer’s. Trak was built to help men contribute to this process and do something about it. Fatherhood is not something that just happens. For most men, fatherhood is a very important goal and part of their life, their dreams. Trak was built so that men don’t have to just sit on the side-lines. Now they can jump in and be just as engaged in the process as their other half.

Charles: We are indeed, and I think sometimes we want to do it alone, maybe our ego or any other number of factors, TRAK allows the opportunity to do this easily. This has been an excellent journey of discovery for us and hopefully for our readers too. Is there anything you think we may have missed that you would like to make sure our readers get to know about before we finish today’s interview?

Greg Sommer, Trak Fertility: Trak is now available at www.trakfertility.com and on Amazon. The only other thing I would add is that we’ve built a separate educational website solely dedicated to men’s reproductive health at www.dontcookyourballs.com. Just like www.dreamingofbaby.com is building awareness around fertility and pregnancy issues, Don’t Cook Your Balls is meant to be a light-hearted but comprehensive resource for this topic. It’s a safe place for men to ask questions and learn a little bit about their health.