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New Smartphone App Measures Your Sperm Count at Home, Here's How

Mar 25, 2017 08:23 AM EDT

Imagine yourself in a small room trying to ejaculate in a cup that you will give to complete stranger. It might be awkward and embarrassing when you think about it. However, some men actually go through this moment in order to know if they are suffering from some kind of infertility issue.

"Although men contribute to infertility in 40 to 60 percent of cases, it's mostly women who carry the weight of infertility," said Hadi Shafiee, a medical engineering researcher at Harvard Medical School, in a report from Smithsonian. "And when men [do] go through the process, they have an ... awkward experience."

Due to this, a team of researchers led by Shafiee developed a new smartphone app that could help men measure their sperm count in the comfort of their homes. The app, described in a paper published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, can be used even by men who have no previous experience in using it. Aside from being easy to use and portable, the device that comes with the app only costs less than $5, way cheaper than the $10,000 machine used in laboratories.

To use the app, men first needs to put a small amount of semen onto a disposable slide then insert into the device. The device will then use the smartphone's camera as a microscope. When the app is activated, the smartphone's camera will start recording the sperm in motion in the slide, calculating its movement and concentration. The overall sample size weight would be measured by a small scale and will be plugged into an algorithm to help determine the quality of the semen.

The researchers assured consumers that their semen will not directly come in contact with their smartphone at any point of the procedure. The app was about 98 percent accurate in hundreds of tests of semen done by the researchers.

Despite the high accuracy of the app, the researchers noted that men should not solely rely of the app. They should still undergo clinical sperm clinic to know if other factors, such as shape of the sperm and the presence of red or white blood cells or foreign debris is causing the infertility issues.

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