DNA Fragmentation

Definition - What does DNA Fragmentation mean?

DNA fragmentation is the occurrence of genetically damaged sperm. DNA fragmented sperm may cause infertility. If a man possesses a high number of DNA fragmented sperm, it is possible that pregnancy conceived through intercourse or assisted reproductive technologies (ART) may fail, as the sperm is unable to function correctly.

FertilitySmarts explains DNA Fragmentation

In order for successful pregnancy to occur and develop, sperm must be highly functional and genetically normal. When infertility occurs, a semen analysis is a standard component of the first stage of fertility testing. However, a semen analysis, which is based on the structure, function, and number of sperm available, may not indicate a problematic cause. The next step of examining the sperm is to conduct a DNA fragmentation test, which provides a number conveying the percentage of sperm within an average ejaculation that contain damaged DNA.

Men who contain an above the threshold number of damaged sperm have a lower chance of conceiving through either intercourse or assisted reproductive technologies, such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF), as all of these methods require a structurally sound sperm.

The causes of DNA fragmentation vary but include infections, genetic disorders, stress, cigarette smoking, age, exposure to environmental toxins and more. Some of the causes may be treatable, and ongoing testing and consultation from a physician can indicate if the sperm are likely to increase in integrity. If health and lifestyle changes are thought to be the causation of the fragmentation, it is possible to reverse the condition and increase a man’s odds of contributing to a healthy pregnancy.

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