Smartphone device can test sperm quality

Researchers tested the device using 350 semen specimens at the Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Center.

It works by using a combination of an optical attachment that can connect to a smartphone and a disposable device for loading a semen sample, said the report.

Details in the journal Science Translational Medicine suggest it could help overcome the stigma for men who are now expected to provide a semen sample in a clinic.

"This device is going to make male infertility screening as simple as home pregnancy tests for a woman", Shafiee told Live Science.

Heterosexual couples interested in having a child should know that men should get checked out for infertility as much as women, as one-third of infertility cases turn out to be due to male infertility.

The man provides the sample on to the microchip, inserts it into the optical attachment and within seconds, the results of the test are revealed.

But rather than urinating on a stick, this test involves a smartphone and app that can identify sperm concentration, motility, total motile cell count and sperm count with a 98 per cent accuracy - all done in the comfort of one's own home.

The test could be sold as an over-the-counter product, Shafiee said, but it might also be a boon for fertility clinics and small hospitals.

If sperm concentrations are below 15 million per milliliter or motility below 40%, that signals to the user that his sperm may have some fertility issues, at which point he should see his clinician. However, abnormal sperm morphology is a contributor to infertility in less than 1 percent of infertility cases, he said. They let us communicate with the world, control our smart home appliances, play games, enjoy virtual worlds, so it really doesn't come as a surprise that it could also be used for medical and health purposes. Though initial results are promising, researchers said they plan to do additional testing before applying for FDA approval.

The app doesn't yet have a name, but devleopers think it could be in the market within a few years. And couples in developing countries or remote areas may not have easy access to fertility clinics. Men who have had vasectomies have to submit semen samples for several months following the procedure to make sure the vasectomy worked-requiring an appointment and the costs for an office visit.

But an innovative team in Boston has developed an incredibly low-priced and much more private way for men to test sperm samples using (what else?) their smartphones.

  • Joanne Flowers