In cooperation with Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), researchers have developed a smartphone app and accessory that costs less than five dollars and can determine a male’s sperm count with 98-percent accuracy. Much like a home pregnancy test, once approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), men will be able to determine their sperm count in the privacy of their own home at a low cost. The new test provides its users with results within five seconds of testing, the creators of this unique solution claim.
The system works with an optical attachment to which the semen sample is loaded for analysis. The kit consists of a disposable microchip with a capillary tip and a rubber ball you squeeze to absorb the sample, meaning it is an entirely touch-free delivery system. This connects to a user-friendly app on your smartphone that carefully walks you through the entire process. The resulting scores are based on several criteria including sperm concentration and sperm mobility. The researchers collected samples from 350 clinical sperm samples and were able to get their 98-percent accuracy reading with their smartphone-based system. John Petrozza, a co-author of the study and director of the MGH Fertility Center said that “more than 40 percent of infertile couples have difficulty conceiving due to sperm abnormalities, and this development will provide faster and improved access to fertility care."
The application could have far-reaching effects as it can not only be used by couples trying to have a baby, but it's also suitable for men that had a vasectomy and want to make sure their operation was successful by continuing to monitor their sperm count at home. Animal breeders that want to check the sperm count of animals they would like to mate could also use the new system, its creators claim. The device is still in development but scientists are currently in the process of running more tests and are planning to present their creation to the FDA in the near future. Overall, this solution is yet another sign that the world of digital, mobile, and miniaturization technologies is leading researchers to develop some interesting applications that should make our lives easier.