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Posted by on Dec 22, 2019 in Infertility | 0 comments

In a nutshell

This study investigated if measuring sperm DNA fragmentation (SDF) is useful in male infertility. 

They found that high SDF was more common in older men with low sperm motility (SM).

Some background

Male infertility affects almost 50% of infertile couples. It is usually diagnosed by measuring semen parameters. These include sperm count (SC) and sperm motility (SM). Another factor that can affect MI is sperm DNA fragmentation (SDF). SDF is caused by DNA strands breaking. This can lead to a number of effects. SDF may reduce the chance of conception. It may also increase the risk of miscarriage. The DNA fragmentation index (DFI) is used to measure SDF. 

Testing for SDF is not a common procedure. Most fertility clinics do not routinely measure SDF. Current guidelines do not recommend SDF when diagnosing infertility. It is usually used after a couple has failed a number of assisted reproduction (AR) attempts. Some studies suggest that certain patient factors (e.g. age) may suggest a need for SDF testing. It is unclear if SDF is associated with infertility and specific factors.

Methods & findings

This study included 1316 men. Men that underwent an SDF test were included. Most men (1082) were undergoing AR. 234 men were donating sperm. A lab test called a sperm chromatin structure assay (SCSA) was performed. This measures SDF using the DFI. Semen parameters including SM were measured. Patient information e.g. age and body mass index (BMI; a measure of weight in relation to height) were assessed. 

The average DFI was 12.1%. This is categorized as low DFI. Other semen parameters were also average across the group of men. DFI above 30% was considered high. This was observed in 5.8% of men. Older men were more likely to have high DFI. High DFI was more common in men with lower SM. There was no link between DFI levels and other semen parameters. 

29 couples where men had high DFI had repeat testing after several months. During this period, men underwent lifestyle changes such as using antioxidants, losing weight, eating healthy or exercise. Of these men, 71% had a decrease in DFI from high to low range.

The bottom line

The authors concluded that high SDF was more common in older men with low SM. The authors also suggested that lifestyle changes can lower DNA fragmentation in men with high SDF.

The fine print

Some men took anti-oxidant medication prior to the study. This could have affected the results. 

What’s next?

If you have any concerns regarding infertility please consult with your physician. 

Published By :

Systems biology in reproductive medicine

Date :

Dec 01, 2019

Original Title :

Incidence of high sperm DNA fragmentation in a targeted population of subfertile men.

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