Standard Sperm Test, Sperm Function Testing & DNA Fragmentation
If your previous attempts to get pregnant have been unsuccessful then it is important to keep in mind that according to the latest data 40% to 50% of infertility causes in couples developed because of male infertility. Thus it is recommended to undergo Complex Sperm Test which includes: Standard Sperm test (motility, morphology and MAR test), Sperm Function test (amount of mature sperm cells) and DNA fragmentation test (sperm count without DNA damages).
Sperm test (or Semen Analysis) – This test is recommended to investigate man’s semen and quality of sperm cells it contains. In cases when the couple has not used contraception for 1 year and a pregnancy has not occurred, a Sperm Test (Standard Semen Analysis) is the first recommended analysis in order to examine general quality of sperm. Analysis is detecting concentration of sperm cells in 1 millilitre and in total ejaculated fluid, motility and morphology. As well as MAR test which is detecting presence of antisperm antibodies (ensuring body’s immune response to sperm cells) on the surface of sperm cell.
Sperm function test – In the case that indicators after sperm test are within normal range, but unfortunately pregnancy has not occurred then it is recommended to undergo a Sperm Function test.
Standard sperm test uses visual evaluation of sperm. Unfortunately good test results do not exclude other invisible defects as for example – immature sperm cells. Only mature sperm cells have the ability to fertilize an egg successfully.
Egg membrane contains hyaluronic acid for the reason that sperm cells would attach to an egg as well as dissolve it in order to fertilize it successfully. Only heads of mature sperm cell have attachment receptors. Immature sperm cells have increased DNA fragmentation, aneuploidy (changes in chromosome number) and immature cytoplasm.
- Unexplained Infertility
- Interrupted embryo development
- Poor blastocyst development
- Multiple unsuccessful treatment cycles
- Pregnancy interruption in short period of time (miscarriages)
- Varicocele, etc.
In some cases, DNA fragmentation of sperm may be reduced by changing your way of life and habits. In addition, eating antioxidants contained in food will prevent the formation of free-radicals and may prevent diseases caused by DNA fragmentation. Even if general parameters of sperm such as – motility, concentration, morphology are all within the normal range, sperm may still be the cause of unsuccessful results after the artificial insemination procedure. DNA fragmentation of sperm is expressed as a rupture of DNA strands in both, or just one DNA helix. If the rupture affects genes which are vital for the implantation and development of an embryo, than the embryo may not survive.
Possible DNA fragmentation causes:
- Oxidative stress
- Drug use
- Environmental pollution (heavy metal, air pollution)
- Elevated testicular temperature etc.
In order to exclude out of the list of possible infertility causes various health disorders or diseases (prostate inflammation, inflammation, varicocele, cryptorchidism and others) which may affect quality of sperm then urologist’s/andrologist’s counselling is highly recommended.