Enhanced Sperm Testing: Examining Sperm DNA Fragmentation

A piece of diagnostic information that has gained validity over the last decade is the correlation of sperm DNA Fragmentation to fertilization. Semen analysis with DNA Fragmentation is completed by adding a fluorescent dye to any sperm that have stored, within itself, DNA that is either not properly packaged or is damaged. The percentage of damaged or fragmented sperm DNA is directly correlated to that sperm’s ability to fertilize an egg under natural conditions. The higher the percentage of fragmentation the less likely a particular sperm would have to properly fertilize an egg; therefore, leading to an increased risk for miscarriage, early pregnancy loss, embryo failure and/or implantation failure.

The combination of a magnified semen analysis (MSA) with DNA Fragmentation can help both the physician and patient determine the best course of action.

Impacts of DNA Fragmentation on Fertility

  • Time to conception, in natural circumstances, is increased when DNA Fragmentation is present
  • With DNA Fragmentation of the sperm, there is an increased chance of early pregnancy loss/biochemical pregnancy
  • DNA Fragmentation can often be present even when a semen analysis indicates “normal” count, motility and/or morphology
  • DNA Fragmentation is more likely to be present with an abnormal semen analysis
  • When DNA Fragmentation is present and additional abnormalities have been identified with a traditional semen analysis, the recommended treatment is most often IVF with ICSI
  • DNA Fragmentation can affect the outcome of fertility treatment including IVF with such impacts as poor fertilization, poor embryo development and/or early pregnancy loss
  • DNA Fragmentation is associated with lower chances of successful treatment with IUI
  • DNA Fragmentation can be affected by increasing male age
  • DNA Fragmentation can be associated with exposure to toxic chemicals and smoking

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