ART and Technology

by Reproductive Medicine Institute (www.teamrmi.com

A new smartphone app has shown early promise in its ability to detect healthy sperm at home

Assisted Reproductive Technology, also known as ART, continues to share ‘pillow space’ with cutting edge Technology when it comes to medical and surgical treatment for Infertility. But, when it comes to some of the newest computer applications, ART and Technology may be unlikely bedfellows.

Recent reports tout a new smartphone attachment that can evaluate a man’s semen and determine his level of fertility with up to 98% accuracy, a new study has shown.  The technology, which developers hope will be available in the next few years, consists of an external accessory in which sperm samples are inserted and an app that analyzes them. While the aim is to make testing as straightforward as a home pregnancy test, many Reproductive Endocrinologist and Infertility (REI) specialists are cautiously optimistic when it comes to a ‘do it yourself’ approach.

“For some couples, this exciting new technology may be a welcome alternative to testing in the clinic, which for some, can be an undesirable or awkward experience,” says Shweta Nayak MD, an REI with Reproductive Medicine Institute (www.teamrmi.com) with offices throughout the Chicagoland area. “It’s important to remember that while an abnormal test result should definitely lead to a consultation with a fertility specialist, a normal result still does not assure a couple the absence of infertility or subfertility.” Supporting this is that the new technology appears to be qualitative rather than quantitative. “Those who test normal, may still be on the low end of normal,” says Nayak, “a distinction which may still require medical intervention in order to conceive.”

Regardless, and in the presence, of at home testing, experts still recommend that couples still consider a formal, complete reproductive evaluation if they have been unable to conceive after 1 year and are under the age of 35, or after 6 months if over the age of 35. Another limitation may be the cost of at home testing, which unlike diagnostic testing in a physician’s office, will not likely be covered by insurance. “We do have systems already in place that provide a home collection kit for those who are unable or unwilling to produce a specimen at the clinic,” says Nayak. This alternate form of collection does depend on reasonably close proximity to the clinic, however, in order to assure an accurate analysis. “In the case where time and/or distance are limiting, this new technology may be quite beneficial,” says Nayak.

Overall, the new app may be a promising alternative for those considering at home testing, especially for those early in their journey towards building a family. “Couples should consider all factors contributing to their decision to test at home,” says Dr. Nayak. “We need to be certain that our testing is not just easier but also every bit as effective and comprehensive. Technology is a wonderful tool, but the best medicine also utilizes the physician’s touch.”