Male Fertility Startups Tap AI to Increase Access


With global sperm counts plummeting, Europe is levelling up its male fertility solutions.

Going Down

Sperm count has reached a point of crisis, referred to by some as the “Spermageddon”.

  • Up to 7% of all men are affected by infertility.
  • Sperm counts around the world have halved over the past 50 years, with the pace of decline more than doubling since 2000.

Looking for answers, researchers found that the biggest causes of deterioration in sperm cells were pollution and exposure to agricultural chemicals, as well as smoking, age and certain health conditions.

Meanwhile, other experts are exploring lifestyle choices, finding that men who regularly lift heavy objects at work have higher sperm counts than men whose work is less physically demanding.

Prioritising well-being is also a contributing, but challenging, factor. As Dr Bradley Anawalt, a professor at University of Washington, said:

“The ability to produce testosterone and sperm is highly dependent on your overall health, and it’s one of the things that’s most vulnerable in a man.”

What it means: 50% of fertility problems within a heterosexual couple are due to the man. But with men more reluctant than women to engage in healthcare services, “saving mankind” could be more difficult than expected.

Fortunately, Europe is at the forefront, developing technological solutions, digital infrastructure and comprehensive clinical care responsible for a 37.3% revenue share of the £3.1B global male infertility market.

Bolstering the boom, holistic care has become crucial to the male fertility conversation – just as it is to the female reproductive discussion.

Taking notice, companies are simultaneously providing support and treatment options, like UK-based digital men’s health clinics Numan, which has raised more than $70M to date, and Manual, which has banked £27M.

Elsewhere, employer-sponsored platform Peppy is scaling up to support workers in men’s health and fertility, among other underserved areas.

Man x machine. But the real market growth is set to come from Europe’s progressive tech solutions.

  • Danish startup Exseed added £2.5M last year for its smartphone-based sperm testing kit.
  • Researchers from Copenhagen unveiled SpermSearch, a new AI tool that’s capable of finding viable sperm within severely infertile men in seconds.
  • Following US-based Oma Fertility’s tech-enabled clinical model that makes IVF more affordable, Israel-based company Fairtility is looking to later stages in the fertility process, using its CE MDR-cleared biomarker analysis tech in the UK, Spain, Turkey, Greece and Norway.

Takeaway: With access to care still extremely limited, fertility journeys are increasingly becoming self-driven, normalising conversations around reproductive health on social media, at home and in clinics. Just as we’ve seen with women, men too will become motivated to tackle health barriers – and the services, tools and products that enable them to do so will need to scale up quickly to serve them.

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