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Discover how sperm DNA fragmentation can affect male fertility

Infertility and problems such as recurrent miscarriage should always be investigated in both women and men. This is because there are changes in sperm that can predispose to these problems, as explained by Dr. Rodrigo Rosa, specialist in human reproduction and clinical director of the Mater Prime clinic in São Paulo, and founding partner of Mater Lab, a Human Reproduction laboratory: “The fragmentation of sperm DNA is one of the causes of male infertility, with sperm having changes and releasing fragments of its DNA into the semen. The problem usually occurs in some sperm, while others remain healthy. When exams reveal a large amount of fragments, however, the chance of natural pregnancy decreases”, says the doctor. “In addition to illnesses, bad lifestyle habits can also be related to this condition,” he adds.

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According to the expert, in these cases, the sperm become unable to fertilize the egg properly and when fertilization occurs, the problem can lead to embryos with developmental delay, failures in their implantation in the uterus and even early miscarriage. “Varicocele, which is the dilation and varicose veins of the testicular sac veins, is one of the causes of fragmentation, but unhealthy lifestyle habits are also related to the problem”, explains the doctor. “Smoking, poor diet and obesity can lead to the accumulation of free oxygen radicals in the body and consequently in the sperm, impairing their function by fragmenting the sperm’s DNA”, explains the doctor.

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In cases involving life habits, changing behavior can remedy the problem, with sperm no longer showing fragmentation after a while. “In cases involving disease or advanced age, the problem can be irreversible”, says the doctor.

According with the doctor. Rodrigo Rosa, the test that detects sperm DNA fragmentation is a complement to the spermogram and should be performed when the couple has difficulties conceiving, repeated early miscarriages, and also in cases of low fertilization rates and implantation failures after treatments for in vitro fertilization. “The test is performed with a semen sample, collected through masturbation. For an accurate diagnosis, the patient must maintain sexual abstinence from 2 to 7 days before the procedure. The collected sample analyzes: semen volume; liquid viscosity; sperm motility and vitality; and presence of DNA fragments and their quantity. With the test, it is still possible to account for the percentage of spermatozoa that have suffered fragmentation and to analyze the possible causes of the problem. With the diagnosis, it is possible to evaluate the best treatment for the man to be able to resume his fertility”, concludes the doctor.

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Discover how sperm DNA fragmentation can affect male fertility

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