At-Home Sperm Test Allows For Male Fertility Testing On Smartphones

Men, your smartphone is smarter than you think—and soon you’ll be able to use it to measure how well your sperm works.

Scientists have developed a low-cost and easy-to-use smartphone attachment that can quickly and accurately evaluate semen samples for at-home fertility testing.

That will be a huge help for more than 45 million couples worldwide who are affected by infertility. Male infertility plays a role in roughly 40 per cent of those cases.

Until now, reliable testing to measure semen quality require highly trained technicians to operate expensive and specialized equipment, with slow results.

The portable device, created by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, measures sperm concentration and motility in seconds, using the processing power and camera found in smartphones.

The platform, which the researchers dubbed Fertilex, was assembled for a total materials cost of $4.45 U.S.

Testing semen with Fertilex required only six simple steps to successfully measure sperm concentration, motility and total sperm count from undiluted and unwashed samples. What’s more, Fertilex was so user-friendly that 10 volunteers with no formal training correctly classified more than 100 semen samples.

The research team analyzed 350 specimens, demonstrating that Fertilex could detect abnormal semen with either insufficient sperm concentrations or low levels of motility with greater than 95 per cent accuracy.

The authors say the smartphone-based fertility test could be used by men as a diagnostic tool or to monitor their semen at home after undergoing vasectomies.

The new test was announced at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston this week.