Definition - What does Epigenetic Test mean?
An epigenetic test is a test that is used to examine epigenetic markers on DNA that affect the way genes are expressed. These markers can be changed by environmental factors and can lead to health problems, such as infertility.
FertilitySmarts explains Epigenetic Test
Epigenetics is the study of external modifiers that affect how genes are read without changing the underlying DNA. In other words, this is the study of factors outside the DNA that switch genes on and off. These epigenetic changes lead to a difference in the way genes are expressed.
Some epigenetic changes are common and normal. These regulate cells by telling them things like what type of cell to become (e.g. skin cell, liver cell, brain cell). Other epigenetic changes can be influenced by age, lifestyle, nutrition, environmental, and other factors. These can lead to diseases, like cancer.
Certain epigenetic changes can lead to infertility. Therefore, people who have been unsuccessful in their attempts to conceive may opt to undergo epigenetic testing to determine whether an epigenetic change is causing infertility.
Although epigenetic changes can impact both male and female fertility, currently only tests for male infertility are available. The test involves collecting a semen sample, which is then sent to a lab for analyzing. The lab examines the DNA of the sperm for epigenetic marks which predict male infertility and poor embryo development. A report from this study is sent to the physician and decisions about treatment can be made based on the results. The test is available online or at some fertility clinics.