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Sperm DNA Fragmentation Test

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sperm dna fragmentation test in Gurgaon

What is DNA fragmentation?

Sperm DNA Fragmentation refers to the change, break, deletion, or separation in one or both the DNA strands within sperm.

DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) is a molecule that carries genetic information responsible for the development, functioning, and reproduction of organisms. The damage to DNA can occur due to various mutagens, be it oxidizing and alkylating agents or electromagnetic radiations. The damage to sperm DNA can possibly occur at several different stages in sperm’s life cycle, be it during production in testicles through spermatogenesis, prior or post-ejaculation.

What is a Sperm DNA fragmentation test?

The sperm DNA fragmentation test is the one that detects the deletion, break or change in the Sperm DNA strands. It is a very important contributor to the success of any fertility treatment.

Earlier, the Sperm DNA fragmentation test was conducted only after a failed fertility treatment but nowadays it is advised to get this test before any fertility procedure as the success of such procedures heavily depends on the quality and health of sperm and the genetic material that it carries. It is generally advised that men above 40, men with a history of cancer treatment, smokers, and patients with unexplained infertility should definitely get this test before going for fertility treatment. 

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sperm dna fragmentation test procedure

Can you improve sperm DNA fragmentation?

Generally, some of the DNA damage is repaired by the cells themselves after identification. However, it is only true for the cells which are still in the immature stage. Mature cells find it difficult to repair the damage to their genetic code. The same is the case with the sperm cells. Also, at times, a healthy egg can repair the damage in sperm DNA upon fertilization. However, if the egg is extensively damaged or is not in good health due to age factors, the damage to sperm DNA could harmfully affect the embryo. This may lead to extreme situations, from failure in implantation, miscarriage to infertility and genetic abnormalities in the offspring. Hence, it is advised to get a sperm DNA fragmentation test at the earliest to get a clearer picture. 

What causes Sperm DNA Fragmentation?

Sperm DNA Fragmentation can occur due to various possible reasons that lead to damaged genetic material. Such damage can occur at any point during the production and storage of sperms.

Factors  affecting sperm DNA fragmentation:

sperm dna fragmentation test cost
  • During the production process of sperms, the genetic material undergoes condensation wherein the numerous DNA strands occupy very little space in the sperm’s head. As per the theory, this process prevents any damage to the DNA, however, it is not just a damage-proof process. There are several factors that increase the chances of damage to the sperm. Firstly, in the nucleus of the sperm, a very large amount of DNA tends to compact tightly which leaves it open to physical damage like the breaking of DNA strands. Moreover, other factors like the absence of the protein that facilitates the condensing of the genetic material, etc make the DNA strands more susceptible to external forces. 

Apoptosis is a self-cleansing process that encompasses programmed cell death. In other words, it eliminates the infected or damaged cells from the body. It is a quintessential process for the growth and general health of the organism. A specific protein named ‘Fas’ allows the body to identify the cells that need to be eliminated from the body and it is this protein that induces apoptosis in the body. Interestingly, if the body has the mechanism to identify damaged cells then how come damaged Sperm cells make their way to the semen? Well, this happens due to what is known as Abortive apoptosis. The process of apoptosis gets interrupted along the way and the damaged sperm cells earmarked with Fas manage to escape.

  • Oxidative stress refers to the damage caused to the DNA and other molecules in the cell by outside forces including free radicals, also known as Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS). Our body usually produces compounds known as ‘antioxidants’ to prevent any damage from these free radicals. Notably, semen itself contains large quantities of antioxidants to prevent damage to the sperms from oxidative stress. 

However, if the quantity of the free radicals grows exponentially or is left unchecked, then this disequilibrium in the number of free radicals and antioxidants causes oxidative stress. It is believed to be one of the major causes of sperm DNA fragmentation in males.

There are various other factors that increase the chances of sperm DNA fragmentation. These include parental age, smoking, Illness, infection, cancer treatment, exposure to radiation or toxins, etc. 

  • Parental Age: With the increasing age, the cells are unable to repair the damaged DNA which, in return, results in the production and storage of sperms with the increased DNA damage. Also with age, the number of cells that are essential for the production of the sperms in the testicles also decreases which could also result in the damage of the DNA. The other factor could be that mitochondria become less effective with age.  The males of age 30 or above have high chances of getting DNA fragmentation (35.6%) whereas men with the age above 50 years are more prone to damaged Sperm DNA (47.7%). 
  • Illness or Infection: With illnesses such as Cancer, STSs, influenza, etc the body is more prone to oxidative stress and as a result, it is more susceptible to sperm DNA fragmentation. 
  • Smoking: Exposure to harmful chemicals like nicotine and cadmium, resulting from cigarette smoking, causes DNA fragmentation in the sperm cells of males. Also, cigarette smokers are more prone to experience oxidative stress. In one of the studies, researchers deduced that smokers have a higher incidence of damaged DNA condensation during spermatogenesis. 
  • Cancer Treatment: Not only does cancer impact fertility but also cancer treatment, due to exposure to radiation during chemotherapy. Although chemotherapy is used to identify and destroy the fast-dividing cancer cells, it also affects the other cells as the treatment is administered through the bloodstream. 

How common is DNA fragmentation?

Sperm DNA fragmentation is likely to occur in men who have weak semen parameters or are infertile. Several pieces of research have substantiated this finding that males with unexplained infertility are more prone to suffer from Sperm DNA fragmentation. The major reasons behind this, as discussed above, are increased parental age, exposure to toxins, cancer treatment, smoking, stress, etc.

Why do we test DNA fragmentation?

It is imperative to get a sperm DNA fragmentation test as it can help the doctor to evaluate the condition and start the treatment in order to prevent any further damage. Moreover, at times, the success of IVF treatments also depends on the health and quality of the sperms. If the damaged sperm cells go unnoticed, it can lead to failure in implantation, miscarriage, or genetic disorders in the offspring. Often, the queries like ‘Can sperm DNA fragmentation cause Down syndrome?’ are posed to the doctors and the answer to such queries can not be straight yes or no. As mentioned earlier too, the damaged DNA of sperm cells can lead to genetic defects in embryos. Hence, it is advised that sperm DNA fragmentation tests should be conducted prior to any fertility treatment.

How much does a DNA fragmentation test cost?

Rs. 8,000 to Rs. 16,000*

Sperm DNA fragmentation test is not similar to that of a semen analysis test. Several distinctive tests that encompass the use of distinct technologies are used to identify the damage to the sperm DNA.

In this process, a laser beam is used to cause the stained sperm cells to produce fluorescent light when placed in the path of the beam. If the fluorescent light is green in color, it indicates no or minimal fragmented DNA. However, if the fluorescent is yellow or red in color, it indicates medium to high levels of DNA fragmentation.

In this process sperms are carefully examined under a high-power microscope, after getting the chemical degraded or denatured. The sperms that do not produce halos under the microscope are damaged and the sperms that produce halos have intact DNA.

In this process, similar to the SCSA method, the fluorescent dye is used to stain the enzyme that binds to the damaged DNA strands. Under the light beam, the damaged DNA cells emit a different color than that of the cells with intact DNA. 

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In this process, the sperm cell membrane is broken down and under a microscope, the DNA strands that form a tail similar to that of a comet are fragmented or damaged. The degree of damage to the genetic material can be assessed by the presence and size of the tail.

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sperm dna fragmentation test procedure

What is a good DNA fragmentation index?

The evaluation report records two indicators of DNA damage to the sperm cells: DNA Fragmentation Index (DFI) and Higher DNA sustainability (HDS). 

The DFI index that is 15% or less is considered to be the outstanding result as it indicates sound sperm DNA credibility. Besides that, the DFI index ranging between 15 to 25% is considered to be good whereas DFI between 25 and 50% indicates good to weak sperm DNA credibility. However, the DFI above 50% is a worrisome condition as it indicates exceptionally poor quality of the sperm cells.

Why choose Grace Fertility?

Grace Fertility is a highly professional IVF center that has been part of innumerable happy moments of more than ten thousand couples so far. The team at Grace Fertility entails highly skilled IVF specialists who provide personalized and customized care to the patients. With the help of advanced assisted reproductive technology at Grace Fertility, you can get rid of all the roadblocks on your way towards a happier future. Forget about all the hassle of researching and going through manuals or some web content, seek assistance from an expert, and chalk out a successful plan of starting your family. Book your Sperm DNA Fragmentation Test at Grace Fertility and get all the support you need.

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