Researchers at the University of Twente have developed a small chip to measure sperm health. The chip not only measures the number of sperm, but how motile the sperm are in the body. While the fertility lab has clear clinical uses, the most exciting use is in home testing equipment. Ideally, men would use the fertility lab to test sperm at home as a starting point in fertility treatment.

Sperm concentration is important to fertility, but sperm motility plays an important factor as well. Not only do men need enough sperm; they need enough moving sperm to reach and fertilize the egg. Home sperm tests currently available measure concentration of sperm, but they give no definitive value or number after the test. The fertility lab measures number not just concentration.

Concentration of sperm in ejaculate is just as important as sperm motility. Just because a man has a high concentration of sperm does not mean he has a high concentration of motile or moving sperm. The fertility lab has the capability to differentiate between moving and non-moving sperm, giving the user a more accurate look at fertility. This function needs to be developed or programmed into the chip.

Some experts worry about the fertility lab reading white blood cells and other factors as sperm; thus giving inaccurate results. According to the developer, the fertility lab can differentiate between sperm, white blood cells and other foreign matter. Only sperm are counted.

Currently, the fertility lab chip is not available for home use. The creator of the chip, Loes Segerink, recently received a Valorisation Grant. The grant will help the developer create a business and fine tune the fertility chip design before moving forward with testing and production. The fertility chip works with a read-out screen or design. This design also needs to be perfected before the unit can come to market.

Source: Loes Segerink. University of Twente. 28 October, 2011.