Sperm DNA fragmentation refers to any damage or lesions that may occur in the genetic material of the sperm cell.
Sperm DNA can lose its integrity and fragment for several reasons that are classified into internal causes and external causes. Some internal causes may be due to abnormal packaging of genetic material during the sperm production cycle, cell death mechanism, high presence of free radicals, etc. External causes include a high fever, high testicular temperature, smoking, existence of varicoceles, a hormonal factor, advanced age, a disease linked to certain treatments such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy, or environmental contamination. All these factors can alter the genetic material of spermatozoa, reducing their survival and their ability to fertilize after ejaculation.
Sperm DNA fragmentation is a possible cause of reproductive failure because the integrity of paternal genetic material is fundamental for the normal development of an embryo and foetus. Also, there are many studies that link high sperm DNA fragmentation to fertility problems or low pregnancy rates in ART treatments.
It is true that high sperm DNA fragmentation is often seen in men who have poor sperm quality. However, we also have cases of high fragmentation in patients who had a normal spermogram. To check if there are lesions from a genetic point of view, you have several evaluation techniques; the most used are the SCSA, the COMETA test, the SCD and the TUNEL.
At Indira IVF, we use the SCSA test (Sperm Chromatin Structure Assay).
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