At-home sperm health selfies are on the rise

There seems to be a trend bubbling up for better tech to test a guy’s sperm in the privacy of his own home. A Harvard-designed sperm motility app made headlines last week with a cheap, at-home test, and now YO, a “sperm selfie” app and FDA-approved device, has just started shipping.

Weird-moving sperm contributes to around 40 percent of cases where couples have a hard time making a baby, but it can be awkward, expensive and a hassle for a guy to go through depositing sperm at the doctor’s office to find out if it’s moving the right way.

However, there are already at-home tests you can buy at your nearest drugstore, such as SpermCheck, which boasts itself as “accurate as a lab test.” This test is usually found in the same aisle as the at-home pregnancy tests and prophylactics. But SpermCheck will only tell if you have enough sperm, not if they swim right.

Trak is another device with FDA clearance that has been available to order online for a while, but also only tracks the count, not movement of sperm, and is pretty pricey at $200 (compare that to YO, which is just under $50).

Unlike SpermCheck and Trak, the YO device says it uses a similar measurement system to the one being developed at Harvard. Both measure MSC (motile sperm count) to make sure sperm is moving the right way rather than just sperm count overall. However, a spokesperson for the Harvard study tells Techcrunch the technology evaluates both sperm concentration and motility but also measures semen volume, total sperm count, and total motile sperm count as well as measures linear and curvilinear velocity.

Also, for those curious, the sperm in the YO test does not touch your cellphone. You put the sperm on a slide and then slip it into the device and wait about seven minutes. It then uses the accompanying app to determine if your sperm is healthy.

Of course, you may still want to go to a doctor to discuss your results, and motility isn’t the only thing a guy should be concerned with. Sperm morphology and environment are also important factors, according to a couple of physicians we asked about the product. Heat, for instance, can also affect motility, and men who spend time in hot tubs or wear tight clothing may not realize how that affects their sperm.

But it is at least an easier, cheaper and more private way to determine what might be going on (or at least eliminate sperm motility as the reason for a couple’s infertility issues).

YO’s app (not to be confused with that other silly social app that lets you send a “Yo” to your friends) works on both Android and iOS, and both the app and device were developed by the Los Angeles-based lab company Medical Electronic Systems (MES), which has made commercial-grade semen analyzers for the past 20 years.

Watch the video below to get a better idea of how YO works: