Sperm DNA fragmentation is a term used to denote abnormal genetic material within the sperm, which in turn may lead to male subfertility, IVF failure and miscarriage. A conventional semen analysis done for sperm concentration, motility analysis and morphology assessment cannot assess the sperm at the molecular level and as result aid the detection of DNA fragmentation.
High sperm DNA fragmentation affects blastocyst development. Higher the DNA fragmentation levels, higher the chances of failed assisted conception treatment and miscarriage. Sperm DNA fragmentation is higher in subfertile men with abnormal sperm parameters. Men with normal sperm parameters are also found to have high sperm DNA fragmentation
Sperm DNA, Pregnancy and Miscarriage
If the male partner has a high percentage of sperm with fragmented DNA this will reduce the chances of successful pregnancy. Many studies proved that high sperm DNA fragmentation is associated with reduced pregnancy rates and live birth rates following natural or assisted conception, as well as an increased risk of miscarriage. Some studies also showed a significant elevation in sperm DNA fragmentation levels in partners of women experiencing recurrent pregnancy loss following spontaneous conception. Overall the results of these studies lend support for the value of testing for sperm DNA fragmentation to identify possible causes for unexplained infertility, failed IVF treatment cycles or recurrent miscarriage. Current European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE 2017) guidelines recommend sperm DNA fragmentation testing for men whose partners experience recurrent pregnancy loss.