Learn about Sperm DNA Fragmentation

DNA is the most important part of your sperm. It contains the instructions that will make your baby look and act like you. Sperm DNA can be damaged during sperm production and transport. This damage is known as DNA fragmentation. Even healthy sperm have some DNA fragmentation, but it’s the amount of fragmentation that matters.

Good quality sperm DNA is crucial for successful fertilization of your partner’s egg and the normal development of your embryo. DNA fragmentation is the term used to denote when the DNA within the sperm contains breaks. Damage to your DNA can occur during sperm production or while it is being stored in your body. If sperm DNA is badly damaged, success at every fertility checkpoint is impaired.

Examen research shows that sperm from fertile men have low levels of DNA fragmentation compared to sperm from infertile men. Our research also shows that a high level of sperm DNA fragmentation reduces the success of fertility treatments like IVF. So, even if your semen analysis is normal, sperm DNA fragmentation may be impacting your ability to get pregnant. Sperm DNA fragmentation is also linked to recurrent miscarriage. High levels of DNA fragmentation have been shown to double the likelihood of a miscarriage occurring.

Learn about Sperm DNA Fragmentation

Causes of Sperm DNA Fragmentation

DNA fragmentation is usually caused by oxidative stress. Oxidative stress produces free radicals which attack the DNA molecule causing breaks in the DNA strands. Sperm DNA fragmentation is often associated with underlying medical conditions, or certain lifestyle choices including:

  • Infection or fever
  • Varicocoele
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Stress
  • Poor diet
  • Recreational drug use
  • Body building supplements
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Medications with adverse sides effects on sperm
  • Advanced age (over 45 years)

See more information on causes of Sperm DNA damage.

Treatment for Sperm DNA Fragmentation

Treatment for high levels of sperm DNA fragmentation essentially depends on the cause. If the damage is caused by free radicals, a change in lifestyle and diet designed to protect against oxidative stress may help reduce the levels of DNA fragmentation. Other treatment options may include varicocoele repair or antibiotics in the co-existence of an infection.


SpermComet® is Examen’s market leading DNA fragmentation test. SpermComet® measures the amount of DNA fragmentation in individual sperm making it the most sensitive fertility test available. SpermComet® is highly predictive of male infertility, male involvement in miscarriage and IVF and ICSI failure. It is the only test guaranteed for men with a low sperm count.

Learn about the test

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