What is an ROS test?

ROS stands for ‘reactive oxygen species’. It is one of the tests that assesses male infertility.

Male infertility is one of the common causes of infertility. The starting point for the assessment of male infertility is basic semen analysis.
There is no perfect test for male fertility or male infertility. Doing a combination of tests will overcome the limitations of information obtained from a basic semen analysis.

ROS test defined

An ROS test measures the oxidative stress that the sperms may be exposed to. ROS or reactive oxygen species are also called free radicals. Free radicals are formed in the sperm cells as by-products of oxygen metabolism.

Small amounts of ROS may be required for starting some critical sperm functions. These functions include attaching and activating the egg cell or oocyte. The attachment and activation of the egg cell are the crucial part of the fertilisation process.

Sperm ROS is measured by using a special cell probes in an andrology laboratory. The system picks up light signals that are emitted as a unit of time. To do an ROS test, you will be asked to give a semen sample at an andrology clinic or an IVF clinic.

Generally, fertile men do not have detectable ROS levels. A high detectable ROS level may result from a state of exhaustion of the sperm cell or oxidative stress.

An abnormal ROS test can be seen in almost 25% of men experiencing male infertility.

Lifestyle factors affecting ROS test results:

This can lead to abnormal biochemical changes in the functioning of the sperm cell. These changes can then lead to the altered functioning or death of the sperm cell.

The studies have not proven the role of ROS tests in predicting fertility treatment outcomes. It may however, help improve the results in a certain subgroup of patients.

There are no proven treatments. Certain measures such as lifestyle changes or taking antibiotics to clear an existing infection. Some men experiencing male infertility may benefit from taking antioxidant supplements.