New studies suggest that sperm with certain levels of DNA fragmentation serve as a strong predictor of reduced male fertility.
Fertility Specialist Dr Andrew Davidson of City Fertility Centre Gold Coast said sperm that appears to be normal using traditional semen analysis methods may actually have extensive DNA fragmentation.
“The usual evaluation of male infertility has typically been a semen analysis measuring count, motility and morphology of the sperm. However DNA analysis is now proving to be a valuable diagnostic tool for male infertility as well,” Dr Davidson said.
The development of a healthy embryo is initiated when the chromosomes which consist of strands of DNA from the egg come together with those from the sperm. However, sometimes these strands can become damaged.
The causes of sperm DNA damage include drugs, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, smoking, environmental toxins, genital tract inflammation, testicular hyperthermia, varicoceles, hormone factors, infrequent ejaculation and the male’s age.
Dr Davidson said depending on the cause of the sperm DNA damage some treatments can help to improve the DNA quality. These treatments include leading a healthier lifestyle, quitting smoking, avoiding exposure to toxins (e.g., fertilisers, fumes) and taking a daily supplement of antioxidants and zinc.
According to a recent fertility and sterility study by Sakkas et al, up to 8 per cent of infertile men have been shown to have high levels of sperm DNA fragmentation.
Dr Davidson said it appears that if the sperm DNA fragmentation level is greater than 30 per cent the couple are likely to have significant reduced fertility potential, including a significant reduction in term pregnancies and a doubling of miscarriages.
“The good news is that I have seen male patients who have significantly improved there sperm DNA quality through following some of the recommended treatments and go on to have successful pregnancies with their partners,” said Dr Davidson.
It is obvious that having this information about the DNA quality of the sperm can be extremely helpful to couples and their fertility specialists, he said.
City Fertility Centre can undertake the one hour sperm DNA fragmentation tests in their world class laboratories