Study of sperm DNA fragmentation

What is sperm DNA fragmentation?

Sperm are in charge of transporting the male’s genetic information to the egg. This information is contained in the DNA.

The genetic material of the sperm can show alterations, breaks or deletions. Sperm DNA fragmentation refers to the number of these anomalies that the DNA presents. The fewer alterations in the genetic material, the greater its integrity.

Sometimes, the lack of information of the sperm DNA can be replaced with the genetic information of the oocyte, but generally speaking the more lesions can be found in the sperm DNA, the lesser the integrity of the genetic material and consequently the less probabilities of a formation of a viable embryo that can become a healthy baby.

In what cases is a sperm DNA fragmentation test recommended?

1. Long-term sterility

2. Failure to obtain pregnancy in more than two IVF treatments

3. Recurrent miscarriage

4. Age of male > 45

5. Recent episode of high fever

6. Varicocele

7. Prior treatments with chemo/radiotherapy

9. Necrozoospermia (< 50% viability)

10. Hypospermia and/or acidic pH of semen

11. When there are plans to freeze the semen samples of patients who will undergo chemo/radiotherapy or a vasectomy

How can we detect sperm DNA fragmentation?

There are different methods for measuring fragmentation levels. At the Instituto de Reproducción de la Marina Alta, we use the TUNEL test, recommended by expert leaders in DNA fragmentation studies.

What to do if significant sperm DNA fragmentation is detected?

There are treatments that can improve the quality of the sperm DNA, which consist of supplying antioxidants. For patients that do not respond well to these treatments, the IVF-ICSI technique with sperm from the testicle is recommended.

What must be done to perform this test?

The only thing needed is a sample of semen obtained in a sterile container.