Most men find the idea of visiting a fertility clinic embarrassing. The idea of collecting your little swimmers in a bottle is just not really appealing. But there’s a new device out now, which can help you gauge the health of your sperm in the comfort of your bedroom. It has a microscopic camera and can be attached to most smartphones.
A short video recorded using this device is enough for a specialist to check how lively one’s sperm is, making it a quick and easy diagnostic aid, and saving a trip to the clinic. The lens, developed by researchers at University of Illinois, Chicago (UIC), is less than a millimetre thick, and once clipped to the smartphone camera, it can magnify the image 555 times, perfect to spot individual sperm cells.
“Everyone has a smartphone now, and they have good cameras, I thought a smartphone microscope could be an easy way to look at problems with male fertility.” lead researcher Yoshitomo Kobori told the New Scientist. Kobori, who is originally from Koshigaya Hospital, Dokkyo Medical University in Japan, is on a two-year scholarship at UIC, and along with this camera, he has also developed a mobile app that adds instant diagnostic capabilities.
The gadget works by recording a little amount of semen, which has to be put on a plastic sheet around five minutes after ejaculation. The camera is then pressed up to the example to record it, but the phone itself is kept semen-free, thankfully. A 3-second clip is enough for an expert to determine the sperm count and see how well they are moving. However, it does not evaluate the ability of the sperm to fertilise an egg, it can just point out if there are some obvious problems.
The device is already up for sale in Japan, and Kobori hopes that it will soon be available in more countries.