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DNA fragmentation is the separation or breaking of DNA strands into pieces. DNA fragmented sperms may cause infertility or recurrent pregnancy losses. If a man possesses a high number of DNA fragmented sperms, it is possible that pregnancy conceived naturally or through assisted productive technologies may fail, as the sperm is unable to function correctly. Sperm DNA fragmentation is a term used to describe damaged genetic material in a sperm. These abnormalities are caused by oxidative stress which is associated with infections, fever, high testicular temperature, diet, and using recreational drugs.
High sperm DNA fragmentation causes male sub-fertility and failure of assisted conception treatment like IVF because it affects blastocyst development causing various abnormalities.
DNA FRAGMENTATION TEST
- The sperm DNA fragmentation test is more useful than the semen analysis test which evaluates the sperm’s number and shape because it assesses the sperm at a molecular level.
- There are several sperm DNA fragmentation tests on the market like the SCSA, TUNEL and Sperm Comet, halo sperm test.
- Halo sperm test is a simple commercially available test where in the presence of a halo around sperm indicates intact DNA. If absent means the sperm DNA is fragmented.
- Less than 15 percent damage usually means a very good outcome, while 16 to 29 percent can mean a less rosy outlook, though still pretty good. If more than 30 percent of the sperm show fragmentation, it may prove very difficult to get and maintain a healthy pregnancy.
CAUSES AND TREATMENT
The causes of DNA fragmentation vary, but include infections, genetic disorders, stress, cigarette smoking, obesity, age, exposure to environmental toxins and more. Some of the causes may be treatable. The best way to reduce sperm DNA fragmentation is to adopt a change in lifestyle, quit smoking and to eat a healthy and balanced diet containing sufficient antioxidants. Lately the use of testicular sperms in case of high sperms DNA fragmentation in ejaculation has been advocated to achieve a favourable pregnancy outcome.