Researchers at Harvard University have created a cheap device that tests sperm motility
Ready to be a dad? There’ll soon be an app for that.
Researchers at Harvard University have created a take-home fertility testing kit for men, allowing wannabe dads to examine their sperm count and motility with little more than a smartphone. In a recently published study in Science Translational Medicine journal, the researchers report their creation of a smartphone attachment device which can read a microchip designed to be loaded with bodily fluids. An Android app snaps video of the semen and processes the results within seconds to determine fertility.
While infertility has been erroneously and stereotypically associated with women—witness the rows of pregnancy kits in drug stores—both men and women can have fertility problems. Between 3.3 to 4.7 million American men have reported visiting a fertility doctor, U.S. government data show. According to the CDC, common contributing factors to male infertility include exposure to environmental toxins and varicoceles, a condition that leads to testicles overheating.
The hope is that the new device will encourage men struggling to conceive to seek help. Experts say that some men are put off by the current process—visiting a clinic, picking up a stash of porn, masturbating in a dark room, and then waiting for results. Given that the Harvard prototype cost just $4.45 to manufacture, men won’t even have to pay much more for the convenience.
The study suggests that the device is accurate 98% of the time, though some doctors caution that it won’t replace a test done in clinical conditions. Hadi Shafiee, one of the study’s co-authors, told the Verge that the device will likely sell for around $50 after it goes through a Food and Drug Administration approval process that could take two to three years.
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