The 2021 WHO manual includes sperm DNA fragmentation testing in its extended examination list

By The Examen Team

13-08-2021



Examen is delighted to see that the latest WHO manual includes sperm DNA fragmentation testing in its extended examination list. Having more clarity on the quality of sperm will undoubtedly help couples to gain a clearer diagnosis  and reduce the length of their fertility journey.

Male infertility represents a very significant part of the overall fertility spectrum, affecting half of all couples experiencing fertility problems. According to HFEA, male infertility is now the most common reason for couples seeking treatment. Despite this, male infertility is rarely fully investigated. Semen analysis has been the only test offered as standard, but this examines sperm quantity rather than genetic quality. Worldwide, experts agree that sperm quality is becoming worse but these defects are often missed by standard semen analysis. At Examen, we understand that sperm DNA fragmentation is a major factor causing male infertility and we strive to empower men to take control of their own fertility using our world-leading sperm DNA diagnostic tests.

We are encouraged by positive comments from the sixth edition of the World Health Organization (WHO) Manual for the Laboratory Examination and Processing of Human Semen. Sperm DNA fragmentation testing has been widely used in the last 20 years in andrology and assisted reproduction laboratories. It could represent an important addition in the work-up of male infertility, becoming one of the most discussed and promising biomarkers in basic and clinical andrology.

This reflects our ethos!

Sperm DNA fragmentation (‘damage’) is very common and can negatively affect embryo development, implantation, and pregnancies in both natural and assisted reproduction. DNA fragmentation can happen naturally in all cells but sperm don’t have the cellular machinery to repair this damage, meaning it can accumulate. It’s normal to have some degree of sperm DNA fragmentation, and this can vary from one sperm to another, but when the level of fragmentation reaches a certain threshold, fertility problems can occur. For example, high levels of sperm DNA fragmentation reduces the success of fertility treatments like IVF or can be a cause of recurrent miscarriage.

Understanding sperm DNA quality can help fertility experts recommend the best fertility treatment for individual couples. Sperm DNA fragmentation analysis is an essential tool to provide this empowering knowledge.

Our market-leading range of Exact tests are powered by our proprietary molecular technology, SpermComet®, which uses the COMET assay now recognised by the WHO. SpermComet® technology can look inside sperm to assess DNA quality, generating a detailed picture of the level of DNA damage. The use of this highly regarded methodology is what makes our Exact® tests some of the most accurate male fertility tests available.

The WHO strives to make access to high-quality, evidence-based, affordable health services universal, including for sexual and reproductive health. We concur. Examen’s aim is to improve male sexual and reproductive health, including fertility care and access.

As the importance of sperm DNA fragmentation analysis increases in recognition globally, now is the perfect moment to become a partner clinic and offer Exact sperm DNA tests to your patients and help more men become dads.

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