• Assessing Sperm Quality


    At Velv'Or, we like ideas that couple utility with form and function. We also like sharing  information about advances in sexual and reproductive health. Here is something that combines both likes. 

    Everything day there are new apps for smartphones. One recently developed measures sperm numbers and motility in semen.

    Why is this of interest? 

    Well, for more than 40% of couples who have problems conceiving the underlying fertility issue is linked to sperm abnormalities.

    Many men never seek evaluation of the semen quality due to perceptions of masculinity, social stigma and the lack of access to testing facilities. So anything that may be a game changer is welcome.

    The app has been created by a team at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, USA,. It is actually a bit more than just software running on your smartphone, as part is a device that clips onto the phone to measure numbers of sperm and their motility in fresh samples.

    The portability of the device means that tests can be done anywhere. So men may no longer have to provide semen samples in clinic cubicles. Doing that can often cause embarrassment, stress and sometimes an inability even to provide a sample. 

    Using the app involves loading a disposable holder with your semen, then plugging it into the device attached to the smartphone. In seconds, the results are displayed on the phone’s screen. 

    The app and device are low cost and can analyse semen in less than five seconds. The results are quantitative and highly accurate, in contrast to the current clinical tests that are laboratory based, time consuming and subjective.

    Hadi Shafiee, who lead the team behind the device, has reported early trials in the journal Science Translational Medicine, but is planning more before filing for approval from the USA's Food and Drugs Administration.

    So far analyses show the device to be 98% accurate in identifying samples with low sperm counts and inactive or poorly motile sperm. As yet, however, it cannot analyse the size and shape of sperm. This is unfortunate as size and shape can be indicators of abnormally developed and non-functional sperm. So for assessing these characteristics of sperm there is still a role for specialist clinics with their cubicles.

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