Sperm DNA Fragmentation

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Medical Information

INTEGRITY. The genetic integrity of the spermatozoan is essential for normal embryo development. A high level of DNA fragmentation in sperm cells may represent a cause of male infertility that conventional examinations cannot detect. The LIV Fertility Center is committed to male infertility and helping you achieve a successful pregnancy.

sperm-dna-fragmentation The head of a sperm contains genetic material, called DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), which are needed from the male to fertilize the egg, make an embryo and create a successful pregnancy. Within the sperm head, the DNA is wound and twisted on itself and wrapped around blocks of protein known as chromatin. The role of the chromatin is to protect the DNA from damage during the sperms’ journey from the testes to the female reproductive tract. However, damage can still occur to the DNA and it can become fragmented.

Sperm DNA Fragmentation Test

The LIV Fertility Center method is based on the sperm chromatin dispersion test (SCD). Our team examines the sperm head to look for any fragmentation of the genetic material and provides information sperm quality that is not detected by a routine semen analysis.

Results are generally reported as the percentage of sperm having fragmented DNA, called sperm DNA fragmentation index (DFI). This score indicates the likelihood of sperm contributing to infertility problems.

It important to know that sperm that have been tested for DNA integrity cannot then be used for treatment — as they are destroyed by the test.  The test will give us knowledge for the percentage of sperm with damaged DNA, but it will not indicate if a single live sperm has damaged DNA or not.

Advantages of the Sperm DNA Fragmentation Test

This test provides information about sperm DNA integrity and may help in the clinical diagnosis, management and treatment of male infertility — and furthermore may be of prognostic value in assessing outcome of assisted conception treatment.


At the LIV Fertility Center, the Sperm DNA fragmentation test is not part of our routine semen assessment. However, Patients who fit in to any of the following categories may benefit from the test:

  • Unexplained infertility
  • Multiple failed IVF treatment
  • Low fertilization rate
  • Embryos which stop developing
  • Poor blastocysts development
  • Recurrent early miscarriages
  • Advanced aged (over 40 years old)
  • Varicocele
  • Poor semen parameters
  • Exposure to harmful substances (Chemicals, toxic agents, chemotherapy, radiation)
  • Chronic urogenital infections.
  • Unhealthy lifestyle (smoking, overweight, poor diet)
  • Idiopathic male factor

Causes of Sperm DNA Fragmentation

The major contributing factor for sperm DNA damage is oxidative stress. All men, whether fertile or infertile, have some degree of sperm with fragmented DNA.  Conversely, higher levels of DNA fragmentation in sperm heads may be caused by injury of the testis, febrile illness, varicocele, advanced age, chemical and radiation exposure, diet, drugs use, excessive heat exposure, varicocele, infections, stress, smoking, prescription medications, and exposure to environmental and occupational pollutants.

Some causes of DNA fragmentation cannot be treated — however Lead Embryologist Karla Ruiz may recommend the reduction or removal of the possible contributor to reduce the elevated DNA fragmentation levels. A change in lifestyle and a diet rich in antioxidants (such as zinc, vitamins A, C and E) may help reduce the levels of DNA fragmentation in some cases.

Initiatives to reduce the levels of fragmentation can be assessed by undertaking a second test three months after the first.

Sperm DNA Damage and Impact on Fertility

Sperm DNA fragmentation is clearly recognized as an important aspect of infertility, as evidence indicates that elevated levels of DNA fragmentation compromise the possibility of a successful pregnancy — and can affect fertilization, embryo cleavage, blastocyst development and is closely correlated with miscarriage and low pregnancy rates.

Even if a man’s sample has a high degree of DNA fragmentation there are many factors which can affect the ability to conceive, so this should not be reserved as the only reason for infertility.

The LIV Way — Step by Step

The fertility specialists at LIV Fertility Center have extensive experience in all aspects of female and male infertility cases. Backed by unparalleled expertise and our state-of-the art fertility center, LIV patients are embraced by a methodically organized IVF program.

STEP 1 | Initial Consultation with Your LIV Advisor

When you begin your journey to parenthood at LIV, you will consult with a personal advisor — a committed member of our team — who will acquire an extensive medical history from you and your partner and address any questions or concerns that you may have. When you are ready to take the next step, your LIV advisor will help you plan your first visit to Puerto Vallarta.

STEP 2 | In-House Consultation with LIV Clinical Coordinator

Your LIV clinical coordinator is a dedicated member of our fertility team who will oversee your entire IVF journey. During your first visit, we will review your preliminary fertility diagnosis, perform tests, discuss with you the details of our program and the options for an individualized treatment plan.

STEP 3 | DNA Fragmentation

Once you have completed your consultation with our expert fertility team, you will begin the DNA Fragmentation testing by leaving your sperm sample (It is imperative that you are not suffering from any illness at this time which could alter the results). The sample will be tested inside our prestigious LIV Fertility Center lab and the results are typically available in 3 days. At this time, our team will discuss with you the results and your options moving forward.

The LIV Lifeline

Regardless of your situation, our leading infertility specialists work closely with you to develop a personalized fertility treatment plan. We offer intended parents a unique fertility lifeline — and are creating a unique vision for the everlasting dream of parenthood. LIV reimagines, refines and redefines each and every aspect of reproductive medicine.

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