Infertility is a growing concern in rapidly depopulating Japan. But it is often seen as a women’s problem, even though both sexes can be to blame.
A Tokyo company is trying to change that by marketing a kit that allows men to check their semen quality easily and in the comfort of their home.
The kit, called Seem and to be released by Recruit Lifestyle Co. this month, comes with a microscopic lens that can be attached to a smartphone and a cup to collect semen. Users also need to download a free iPhone app to take a video of their sperm.
Users put a drop of their semen on the lens, then shoot a video using the app. The images are automatically analyzed, showing mobility and concentration of the sperm in numbers, according to the company.
A low sperm count and slow mobility are believed to be the top causes of male infertility.
The app then displays the data in bar graphs, allowing users to compare the results against parameters for sperm characteristics set by the World Health Organization.
The firm decided to release the product after witnessing resistance by many men to visit fertility clinics, a Recruit Lifestyle official said.
“As it is, it is mostly women who visit clinics, even though their male partners play a part in nearly half of the infertility cases,” said spokeswoman Ayumi Tokura. “Men seldom seek professional help, due to time constraints and psychological barriers for doing so. Oftentimes, women find out, after going through years of fertility treatment, that the problem does not lie with them, but their partners. By then, the women are exhausted, both mentally and physically.”
Tokura said the kit offers only a simple test, noting that concerned couples should seek a specialist.
“This kit only shows basic data, but we hope it will give more men the chance to visit clinics at an early stage.”
The app will be available only on iPhones for now. The firm will test-market 500 sets of the kit at ¥5,000 each.