Usually, male infertility is caused by the quality or quantity of sperm. Either, the sperm produced by the male is of low quality or the count of sperm in the ejaculate is low in number. Though, sometimes, the reason behind fertility is DNA fragmentation. So, what is it, exactly? At times, the problem of infertility roots to DNA.
WHAT IS DNA?
DNA refers to deoxyribonucleic acid. It is a material, which is present in all living organisms, including sperm. DNA is the carrier of genetic information. So, as the name suggests, DNA fragment might reflect a problem in the genetic composition of the sperm.
WHAT IS SPERM DNA FRAGMENTATION?
Sperm DNA fragmentation refers to the amount of genetic damage in the DNA of sperm. Sperm is the powerhouse of genetic materials that are carried to the body of the female. The fragmentation of the sperm DNA shows the breaks in it. Recent researches have shown that, sperm DNA fragmentation is one of the leading causes of male fertility. Sometimes, while the motility, quantity, and quality of the sperm are fine, failed pregnancy can also be a result abnormal genetic composition of the sperm. Some research even suggests that the egg cell or ovum itself has the ability to repair the DNA of the sperm during fertilization but such cases are rare and sometimes the DNA of the sperms are too fragmented to be repaired by the egg cell.
WHAT ARE THE FACTORS AFFECTING SPERM DNA FRAGMENTATION?
Though there are no exact causal factors for sperm DNA fragmentation, they are most likely to have been caused by oxidative stress or faulty DNA repair mechanisms. Here are some other factors affecting DNA fragmentation of the sperm:
• Drug Abuse
• Unhealthy Environment
• High Fever
It won’t be wrong to say that a lot of lifestyle habits and choices affect the DNA of the sperm but there is no solid proof backing what exactly causes it.
WHAT IS THE SPERM DNA FRAGMENTATION TEST?
Since sperm fragmentation deals with the DNA or the genetic material of the sperm, a mere semen analysis is not enough to detect the abnormalities. Specific tests are designed for the same. One of the most commonly used tests is SCSA. SCSA stands Sperm Chromatin Structure Analysis. In this test, the sperm is made to come in contact with a certain chemical dye. If the sperm is broken, its DNA turns red. Similarly, if the sperm is healthy or normal, its DNA turns green. Then, the ratio of the red to green sperm cells is calculated with the help of a specially built software & computer. In this way, the DNA Fragmentation Index or DFI is calculated.
WHAT TO MAKE OUT OF YOUR DNA FRAGMENTATION TESTS?
• If the DFI is less than or equal to 15%, the results lie between excellent to good.
• If the DFI is greater than 15% to less than 25%, the results lie between good to fair.
• If the DFI is greater than or equal to 25% to less than 50%, the results lie between fair to poor.
• If the DFI is greater than or equal to 50%, the results are very poor.