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Understand everything about Sperm DNA Fragmentation

- 10 min read
written by Shield Connect

Are you planning to have a baby since long? The wait to get double line on the home pregnancy test is becoming frustrating? Have you consulted your doctors yet? Have you thought of a possibility that the male partner could be infertile? Yes. It is possible that the problem of infertility is with the the … Continue reading “Understand everything about Sperm DNA Fragmentation”

Are you planning to have a baby since long? The wait to get double line on the home pregnancy test is becoming frustrating?

Have you consulted your doctors yet? Have you thought of a possibility that the male partner could be infertile?

Yes. It is possible that the problem of infertility is with the the male partner. Infertility is nothing but a failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy even after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse. It may be due to male or female factors. Worldwide, about 30%–50% of infertility cases have been attributed to sperm defects in males.1

Sperm defect can include very low sperm count, inadequate sperm motility, structural abnormalities of sperms and genetical issues.1

What is Sperm DNA Fragmentation?
Deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, is the genetic material that contains the instructions required for an embryo to develop and survive. The genetic material inside the sperm should be intact for it to successfully fertilize the woman’s egg and lead to a normal embryo development, from which the fetus is formed. Sperm DNA fragmentation is a term used to describe the abnormal genetic material within the sperm, which in turn may lead to male subfertility or infertility, IVF failure and miscarriages.2,3

What causes Sperm DNA Fragmentation?
There are various causes why the DNA of the sperm can become abnormal or fragmented. Out of the various factors, the major contributing factor for sperm DNA fragmentation is oxidative stress (the imbalance between the free radicals and antioxidants), which can be associated with one or more of the following 2,3:

• Infection
• Obesity
• Illness that produce high fevers
• Chronic disease
• Elevated testicular temperature
• Recreational drugs
• Smoking
• Alcohol
• Stress
• Diet
• Environmental and occupational pollutants
• Advanced chronological age
• Varicocele

How is Sperm DNA Fragmentation Tested?
The testing that is done to check the motility and sperm count does not detect the damage of the sperm’s DNA. There are many different special tests available that test for the DNA fragmentation. The sperm samples are collected at a fertility clinic, a portion of the specimen is frozen and sent to a specialty lab for sperm DNA fragmentation testing.3

On examination, sperm quality is determined by DNA integrity, which is measured by the number of breaks in the double strand DNA structure. A high level of sperm DNA fragmentation may contribute to infertility. A highly fragmented sperm DNA may negatively affect embryo development, embryo quality and decrease the chances of a successful pregnancy.3

1, Less than or equal to 15% DNA Fragmentation Index (DFI) = are considered as best quality sperms
2. Between 15 to 25% DFI = are considered as good quality sperms

As the DNA Fragmentation Index increases more than 25% the quality of sperm further deteriorates and chances of pregnancy reduce further.

What are the Benefits of getting tested?
The sperm fragmentation testing provides a dependable report of sperm DNA fragmentation credibility that might help to recognize the reason why the woman is not able to get pregnant. Details about sperm DNA test might aid in the medical prediction, handling and treatment of men infertility and then might be of value in evaluating the result of assisted conception treatment. Recognition of increased levels of DNA fragmentation in the sperm might help the clinician with regards to whether or not sperm donation might be suitable. Sperm DNA fragmentation tests can help partners make up the best decision about their following treatment option.4

Who can Benefit from the Test?
The need for Sperm Fragmentation Test arises when there is:

• Unexplained infertility
• Arrested embryo development
• Poor embryo development
• Unsuccessful attempts for in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) treatments
• Miscarriage
• Advanced age
• Varicocele
• Poor semen parameters
• Exposure to harmful substances

Can Sperm DNA Fragmentation be treated?
If DNA fragmentation is present is men, then fear not as it is possible to reduce sperm DNA fragmentation, in some cases, depending on the cause. If it is due to varicocele, surgical repair of large varicocele can improve DNA integrity. If the reason behind the fragmentation is infection, then treating the infection with appropriate antibiotic therapy may help with reducing the fragmentation. There are other lifestyle measures that may be helpful. These include3:

Staying cool: Avoid soaking in hot baths or hot tubs as well as avoid placing laptops over testes
Stop smoking: Talk to your doctor about smoking cessation programs
Losing weigh: Obesity is linked to sperm DNA fragmentation
Following a healthy diet: Adding a variety of fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants to help combat oxidative stress
Considering supplements: There are some supplements that may help reduce DNA fragmentation. However, these should be discussed with your doctor.

Getting pregnant is possible in this age and century; it’s all about taking the right measures. Talk to your doctor today to find out about the various possibilities.

1. Al Omrani B, Al Eisa N, Javed M, Al Ghedan M, Al Matrafi H, Al Sufyan H. Associations of sperm DNA fragmentation with lifestyle factors and semen parameters of Saudi men and its impact on ICSI outcome. Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2018 May 19;16(1):49.
2. Sperm DNA Fragmentation test [Internet]. Available at: https://www.reproductivehealthgroup.co.uk/fertility-treatments/assessments/men/dna-fragmentation/. Accessed on Sep 16, 2020.
3. Sperm DNA Fragmentation Testing and Fertility [Internet]. Available at: https://www.uranj.com/blog/sperm-dna-fragmentation-testing-and-fertility. Accessed on Sep 16, 2020. 4. Sperm DNA fragmentation [Internet]. Available at: https://www.indiraivf.com/sperm-dna-fragmentation/. Accessed on Sep 16, 2020.

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