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THE DO-IT-YOURSELF SPERM COUNT

A small device which measures the sperm cells with electrical current may provide a do-it-yourself fertility test for men. Rather than attending a clinic and providing a sample which is then sent to the lab for testing, a man will be able to find out whether he is fertile in the comfort of his own home.

One of the factors which determine a man's fertility is his sperm count: the number of sperm cells in a certain volume of seminal fluid. Healthy sperm cells are extremely motile: they are 'programmed' to swim the (for them) vast distance up the female uterus to the Fallopian tubes and ova. They must do so in an acid environment, while the sperm cells themselves are alkaline. All but the very fastest swimmer will fail to survive the journey.

It is precisely the motility of healthy sperm cells that make them suitable for this specific lab-on-a-chip application. Two electrodes determine the number of motile sperm. When current is passed between the two electrodes in seminal fluid, the conductivity fluctuates whenever a sperm cell passes.

Watch a video about the home fertility test for men (Source: www.wetenschap24.nl).