Examination of Sperm DNA Fragmentation
The standard parameters of the spermogram usually give little idea of the future IVF cycles outcome, although for many years it was believed that the sperm genome plays a crucial role in early embryogenesis and, therefore, the success of IVF attempts.
The assisted reproductive technology in general, and IVF/ICSI in particular, allow couples even with severe male factor to get the long-awaited pregnancy. Although a few years ago, such couples had only one way out — donor sperm. In any case, the possibility of the normal development of embryos obtained from sperm with poor parameters is being questioned. Among the causes of unsuccessful IVF attempts the poor quality of sperm is most often named. For a more in-depth study of sperm structures several techniques are currently used. The most commonly used method TUNEL allows for determining the degree of sperm DNA fragmentation.
In our infertility treatment clinic of a full cycle in the Department of Urology and Andrology we conduct an examination of sperm DNA fragmentation by the TUNEL method.
Recent studies show that the decline in sperm parameters is directly related to the increase in the degree of DNA fragmentation. At the fragmentation threshold degree of more than 10% the reduction in the fertilization percentage is well proved. However, according to some sources, the fertilization rate decreases at the threshold value of 30%, which can be explained by the ability of the egg to repair (restore damaged areas) its own DNA as well as sperm DNA. At higher values the recovery does not occur. The DNA fragmentation leads to the disruption of decondensation and, therefore, the absence of fertilization. The high proportion of sperm with DNA fragmentation is an unfavorable factor for pregnancy. Thus, determining the degree of DNA fragmentation can be considered an important factor in the IVF/ICSI treatment outcome forecast
Indications for studying a sperm DNA fragmentation degree:
- unexplained infertility (idiopathic infertility),
- multiple unsuccessful attempts of IVF/ICSI.
- men’s age older than 45 years,
- varicocele (enlargement of the pampiniform venous plexus),
- lack or poor quality of embryos on the fifth day of development,
- use of cryopreserved sperm.
You can get more details about this examination at a urologist/andrologist’s consultation.