A take-home male fertility test is the latest whiz-bang gizmo from researchers at Sandia National Laboratories.
Developers Greg Sommer and Ulrich Schaff say their new portable male fertility test allows men to monitor the quality of their sperm regularly from the privacy of their own home. Formerly with the national laboratory, the researchers say their new consumer product may be available by early next year.
“It allows men to test and track their fertility from the comfort and privacy of their own homes,” Sommer told the Albuquerque Journal this week. “It’s a portable, easy-to-use diagnostic system with the accuracy of a clinical lab test.”
Like many consumer innovations during the past half-century, the new device is the byproduct of research conducted for the development of technologies for space exploration and defense. While working for the U.S. government, the two built a machine allowing police and other first responders to quickly detect toxins and other biological threats to security. After licensing the new technology, Sommer and Schaff went into business as Sandstone Diagnostics Inc., developing a world-first disposable male fertility test they call “TrakFertility.”
Like the familiar color-coded home pregnancy test, the male fertility diagnostic gives results in just minutes — making the test easier than checking the car’s oil. Ahead of distribution, the developers are creating a mobile app to accompany the test, which would allow men to analyze and discuss the results with their doctors.
“It's a portable, easy-to-use diagnostic system with the accuracy of a clinical lab test,” Sommers said.
Sommers says the product fills a void in a consumer marketplace focussed overwhelmingly on women, with male fertility largely ignored. "We want to help people conceive in a way never done before," he said. "The market today is completely focused on females to monitor hormones, temperatures and so forth for peak fertility windows each month. But one of every five men has low-sperm counts that can impair conception."
But don’t expect any daytime infomercials from Sommers and Schaff, however. The two say they would prefer to sell their products directly to consumers through partnerships with existing medical device makers in the industry. Those potential customers include millions of American men — about 7.5 percent of men younger than 45 — who have seen a fertility doctor at least once during their lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Below is a YouTube video demonstrating the male fertility test: