The Semen Analysis: There’s Even an App for That!

The first examination for male infertility is a history followed by a physical exam.  Next comes the semen analysis, where a single drop of seminal fluid is examined under the microscope.  The semen is examined for the number of sperm, the motility of the sperm, and the shape of the sperm.  This test is performed after 48 hours of abstinence and the cost is $75-$150 depending on the sophistication of the lab performing the test.

Soon it is possible to have an accurate sperm count in the privacy of your home and will be as easy as a home pregnancy test.

Researchers have developed a device costing less than $5 to make that attaches to your cellphone and provides a quick and easy semen analysis. The results in early testing are just as accurate as the elaborate computer-assisted semen analysis machines costing tens of thousands of dollars in measuring sperm concentration, sperm motility, total sperm count and total motile cells.

The device uses an optical attachment for magnification and a disposable microchip for handling the semen sample. With two lenses that require no manual focusing and an inexpensive battery, it slides onto the smartphone’s camera. Total cost for manufacturing the equipment: $4.45, including $3.59 for the optical attachment and 86 cents for the microfluidic chip that contains the semen sample.

The software is designed with a simple interface that guides the user through the test with onscreen prompts. After the sample is inserted, the app can photograph it, even create a video of the sperm motility and report the results in less than five seconds. The test results are stored on the phone so that semen quality can be monitored over time.  The results can be shared with the medical professional who is evaluating the man\couple for infertility.

Another application of the app is for men who have had a vasectomy and need to be certain that there is absolutely no sperm in the ejaculate following the procedure.  With this app, a man can perform his own semen analysis at home and email the result to the urologist to confirm permanent sterility

The Food and Drug Administration hopefully will approve the device within the next two years.

Bottom Line: Technology is making medical care easier and can be accomplished without being face to face with the doctor or even having to go to the doctor’s office.  This is the way modern medicine is going to be practiced.  Welcome to the new age of medical care.

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