Sperm count with a smartphone may be coming soon

Let’s get the most important concern out of the way first, and here we’ll quote the media organization that President Donald Trump would like to defund.

“At no point does semen touch the smartphone.”

Yup, you read it here first – or second, if you happened to catch NPR’s online report about a new development in the fight against infertility.

“Current methods to diagnose male infertility require laboratory equipment that can cost up to $100,000. On top of that, standard methods often require a specially trained technician,” NPR reported this week.

“A team of researchers at Harvard is trying to change that.”

Now that we’ve covered off the fact that the researchers’ solution will not require a bleach-bath for the smartphones in question, we can get serious.

“Up to 15 percent of couples are infertile,” according to the Mayo Clinic.

And no matter if a couple behaves like a pair of cottontails in the spring, according to the folks at Mayo:

“They aren’t able to conceive a child even though they’ve had frequent, unprotected sexual intercourse for a year or longer.”

But which of the parties in this couple is responsible? Either could be infertile.

Those Harvard researchers say they’ve found an inexpensive, high-tech method of finding out whether the male member of the couple has the problem.

Low sperm count can indicate infertility, and the researchers have developed technology to test sperm count using a smartphone and an associated app, according to the NPR report.

“First, you load a small amount of a semen sample onto a disposable microchip,” NPR instructed. “Then you put the microchip into the cell phone attachment through a slot. The attachment turns the phone’s camera into a microscope.

“After the sample is loaded, you run the app, which allows the user to see a video of the sample. Then hit record, and the app analyzes the video to identify sperm cells and track their movements.”

Abnormal sperm samples were identified with 98 percent accuracy, according to the researchers.

Although they designed the system for Android devices, they’re working on an iPhone version. It costs about $5 to make the device, which would facilitate use in developing countries, according to the report.

A researcher told NPR that the next steps would be FDA approval, launch of a company and mass production, resulting in a setup costing less than $50.


Photo: Apple iPhones in an Apple store (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File)


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  • Makikiguy

    Won’t the phone get sticky???