Digital Innovation Hub

Researchers Develop Smartphone Device for Male Fertility Screening: BWH Bulletin

Walk down the family planning aisle in any drugstore and one observation becomes immediately clear: Most at-home fertility tests on the shelf are catered to women.

Hadi Shafiee, PhD, of the Division of Engineering in Medicine and Renal Division of Medicine, set out to change that.

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. Men contribute to infertility in more than 40 percent of cases, but across many cultures, women are often presumed to bear sole responsibility when a couple struggles to conceive. In addition, social and cultural stigma, and lack of access in resource-limited countries, may prevent men from being tested.

Joined by researchers from BWH and MGH, Shafiee developed a diagnostic test to measure semen quality that men could conduct in the privacy of the own home, using a smartphone-based device. Their latest findings indicate that the analyzer can identify abnormal semen samples – measuring sperm concentration and motility – with approximately 98 percent accuracy. The results were published online this month in Science Translational Medicine.

In addition to the hard work of his lab team, Shafiee credits the Brigham Innovation Hub for helping turn an idea into device by connecting him with experts and providing pilot funding.

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