The new smartphone app will allow men to measure the concentration, sperm count and the ability of sperm to swim properly in the comfort of their own homes. Using a small amount of semen placed in a disposable microchip, men will be able to test their fertility levels according to a new report.

The report published on the Science Transnational Medicine Journal earlier this month is titled An Automated Smartphone-Based Diagnostic Assay for Point-Of-Care Semen Analysis.

The scientists who worked on the study say the app has a high accuracy rate of 98% similar to that of traditional fertility testing equipment.

“The accuracy of this approach was very similar to that of computer-assisted laboratory analysis, even when it was performed by untrained users with no clinical background, demonstrating its potential for use at home and in low-resource settings,” they found.

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Fifteen percent of couples around the world are affected by infertility according to a 2015 study titled A unique view on male infertility around the globe which looked at male infertility across the world. This means a total of couple at the 48,5 million couples globally are affected in some way by infertility.

The inability to have children is often seen to be solely the woman’s problem. Male infertility is not well reported in general  when compared to female infertility, especially in countries where culture and patriarchal norms prevent men from admitting to being infertile. This has an effect on the collection and complication of statistics according to the global male infertility report.

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At a total cost of $4,45 (R57,27), this form of affordable and rapid testing will allow even inexperienced users in areas with poor infrastructure to conduct fertility exams on themselves, which may improve the diagnosis of infertility in men.

The test includes a lightweight optical attachment (~75 g), a small portable (15.2 × 8.2 × 3.4 cm) and a 3D printed housing with a cheap white LED light.

It also includes two aspheric lenses, a small and low-cost battery, an electronic switch and wiring components to connect the electronics. The optical attachment was custom-designed to align its optical axis to the smartphone camera through a simple slide-on mechanism,” the researchers say.  It is then plugged into a smartphone which will analyse the data.

The app is still in a prototype stage and is still waiting approval from the US Food and Drug Administration.

– Sources: Science Transnational Medicine Journal,US National Library of Medicine-National Institutes of Health