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Smartphone-based Semen Analyzer May Help Men Screen for Infertility at Home

More than 45 million couples worldwide grapple with infertility, but current standard methods for diagnosing male infertility can be expensive, labor-intensive, and require testing in a clinical setting.

Cultural and social stigma, and lack of access in resource-limited countries, may prevent men from seeking an evaluation. Hadi Shafiee and team, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Harvard Medical School (HMS) developed a home-based diagnostic test that could measure semen quality with a smartphone-based device. To evaluate the device, the research team collected and studied 350 clinical semen specimens at the MGH Fertility Center. Overall, the smartphone-based device was able to detect abnormal semen samples based on WHO thresholds for sperm concentration and motility (sperm concentration less than 15 million sperm/ml and/or sperm motility less than 40 percent) with an accuracy of 98 percent. The team also evaluated how well both trained and untrained users performed the test using the smartphone-based device. The findings by the team indicated that the analyzer can identify abnormal semen samples based on sperm concentration and motility criteria with approximately 98 percent accuracy.

The results were published in Science Translational Medicine.

The work was featured in multiple news outlets worldwide including The New York Times, CNN, CBS news, Scientific American, The Boston Globe and The Huffington Post among others. View more

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