Providing a sperm sample for analysis has been described as awkward and embarrassing by a large portion of male patients, and has also been associated with feelings of stress, anxiety and disappointment. That all might soon change thanks to a new app developed by American scientists that will allow smartphones to perform a home fertility test for men. It also promises to significantly cut the cost of sperm testing.
According to one of the masterminds behind the app and device, John Petrozza, who heads the Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Center, the new test is a complete opposite to traditional sperm assessment techniques that were developed in the 1950’s and are still in use today, which are relatively expensive and time-consuming, and the accuracy of which is limited by the human factor. The new method is cheap, fast and highly precise.
The application will work in conjunction with a gadget that’s attached to the mobile device. The clip-on device, which costs under $4.50 US (£3.50) to produce, is described as extremely simple to operate. All it requires is placing a small amount of semen onto a disposable microchip and plugging it into the phone like a USB cable. The results take less than half a minute. Makers guarantee that no special medical education is required to read them.
While early research showed that this method correctly identified the presence of abnormal sperm in a whopping 98% of cases, it should be noted that the home fertility test is limited in scope. For example, for now, the app is unable to analyze sperm morphology, so, at least for the foreseeable future, traditional lab-based methods are not going anywhere.
At present, the device is undergoing additional testing, with the makers planning to apply for FDA approval once it’s completed.