Male infertility is on the rise due to many reasons. Amongst the many causes of male infertility, Sperm DNA Fragmentation is one of the important causes, of which many are unaware. Sperm DNA Fragmentation may reduce the chance of a successful pregnancy and live birth by affecting the embryo development and increasing the risk of first-trimester miscarriage.
What is Sperm DNA Fragmentation?
When there is damage to the sperm’s DNA, it is called sperm DNA fragmentation and it may lead to male infertility. DNA Fragmentation Index tells the percentage of DNA damage in the sperm. Higher the value of DFI, increased is the risk of male factor subfertility.
Indications to check for DFI:
- Unexplained infertility
- Recurrent early pregnancy loss
- Poor embryo formation of IVF
- Previous failed IVF cycles
- Multiple failed IUI cycles
- Chronic smokers
What causes Sperm DNA Fragmentation?
- Oxidative stress
- Junk Food
- Increased paternal age
- Exposure to radiation, chemicals
- Air pollution
- Drug use
Diagnosis of Sperm DNA Fragmentation:
Some of the below are the common tests used to measure the amount of DNA damage in the sperm.
- TUNEL assay
- Sperm Chromatin Structure Assay (SCSA)
- Comet assay
Treatment for Sperm DNA Fragmentation:
Lifestyle modifications like quitting smoking, weight management, antioxidant therapy, varicocele treatment can improve the quality of sperms. There are certain specific medicines containing antioxidants that can be used to reduce the DFI Value.
Sperm selection techniques like MACS (Magnetic Activated Cell Sorting), Microfluidics are used to select healthy sperms to improve the pregnancy rates. TESE is a highly advanced technique that enables the retrieval of sperms directly from the testes as sperms aspirated directly from the testes would not have been exposed to oxidative stress. Based on the severity of the condition, specific methods can be used for the extraction of good quality sperms which can be further used for ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) thereby improving the chances of conception.
Parenthood is a very special journey. For some, it may take a little longer than others to conceive. When the couple is unable to conceive after a year, it is important for the couple to consult a fertility specialist. There is hope. Even men with sperm DNA fragmentation issues can attain fatherhood with the help of advanced technology.