A researcher at a Dutch institute has created a “fertility chip” that can accurately count sperm and measure how efficiently they move – what’s called sperm motility. “A future home test kit will make it possible for men to test their sperm,” says the press release for the device from the University of Twente, in the Netherlands, which states that other home-test kits for sperm don’t give accurate readings.
How does it work? Simply put, semen is placed on a chip that uses electrodes to measure the number of sperm and can differentiate sperm from other particles, like white blood cells, to give an accurate count. (The cut-off for a healthy level is at least 20 million sperm per milliliter of ejaculate.) The chip can also sort out motile sperm from non-motile sperm and count them separately, to give would-be dads a good idea of whether their swimmers are moving as they should to make conception easier. Loes Segerink is the researcher who created the “sperm chip” at the university’s MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology.
ConceiveOnline.com asked Weibe van der Veen of the University of Twente when Americans might see this technology in the form of an at-home test: “It is hard to say when this will be a product. The research proves that this is a possibility, but then you still have to develop a chip that is really cheap (disposable) and you need the device that displays the results. That still has to be developed. The researcher Loes Segerink received a Valorization Grant for a first feasibility study and will probably start a spinoff company for further developing this.”
A Centers for Disease Control study analyzed data from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth, and found that 7.5% of all sexually experienced men reported a visit for help with having a child at some time during their lifetime—this equates to 3.3–4.7 million men. Of men who sought help, 18.1% were diagnosed with a male-related infertility problem, including sperm or semen problems (13.7%) and varicocele (5.9%).
Would you buy an at-home test that gives you an accurate idea of sperm count and motility?
Photo courtesy of University of Twente