Sperm DNA fragmentation testing is used to evaluate the amount of damage to the DNA in a sperm sample. Such damage or ‘fragmentation’ to sperm DNA could be induced by natural factors like improper maturation or oxidative stress which may occur at different stages, during spermatogenesis, before or even after ejaculation.
DNA fragmentation in sperm is an important factor that contributes to male infertility. Genetic material, or DNA, should be intact to achieve healthy fertilization. Therefore, it is highly important to consider the extent of DNA damage to sperm, as this factor is not evaluated in conventional semen analysis. Assessing the integrity of DNA in sperm through a DNA fragmentation test can provide essential information about the fertility potential of a given semen sample, before planning fertility treatment by means of Assisted Reproduction Technology (ART).
Testing for DNA fragmentation should ideally be part of routine sperm analysis. It is particularly recommended in the following cases:
Results of a DNA fragmentation test can provide fertility specialists with useful and actionable insights at the start of treatment, helping them make better-informed decisions regarding the right fertility care for couples.
DNA Fragmentation Index (DFI) is the percentage of sperm with fragmented DNA. A DNA fragmentation index over 30% is considered high and may impact fertility.
Couples who receive an abnormal DFI report are advised to discuss their results with their physician who might prescribe certain vitamins and suggest new lifestyle changes to enhance the integrity of the DNA in sperm cells.