Antioxidants improve DNA fragmentation 

Antioxidants improve DNA fragmentation

Sperm DNA fragmentation may be responsible for couples having difficulty conceiving, male infertility and miscarriage. Time-to-pregnancy, pregnancy loss and unexplained infertility can be reduced when DNA damage of sperm is addressed.1

Sperm are vulnerable to damage as they lack DNA repair mechanisms and are vulnerable to oxidative stress due to a high amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids in the plasma membrane.2 Factors that affect sperm DNA quality include radiation and heat, chemical pollutants, increasing age, cigarette smoking, alcohol, sexually transmitted diseases, diabetes and obesity.1

Infertile men have greater sperm DNA damage than fertile men2, and even though semen analyses are used for evaluating male fertility, 15% of infertile men will have a normal semen analysis.1

A systematic review found sperm DNA damage is associated with lower natural pregnancy rates and multiple studies have demonstrated that sperm DNA damage is implicated in a very low probability of achieving a natural pregnancy. In fact, a pregnancy is almost impossible when sperm DNA damage is more than 30%.1 In those who can conceive, there is likely to be an increased time-to-pregnancy.3

Oral antioxidant therapy

Commonly used antioxidants CoQ10, Vitamin C, Selenium, L-carnitine, Acetyl-l-carnitine, Vitamin E and Zinc have been proven to improve sperm parameters and pregnancy rates in sub-fertile men by reducing oxidative stress.4 A combination of Vitamin E and Vitamin C showed the best effect on DNA fragmentation followed by Zinc and Selenium.4

Lifestyle therapies

Men with fertility issues and poor sperm quality are best advised to abstain from alcohol and cigarette smoking. Weight management, exercise, avoiding high temperatures and wearing loose-fitting underwear are recommended lifestyle measures to improve sperm health.1

  1. Kim GY. What should be done for men with sperm DNA fragmentation? Clin Exp Reprod Med. 2018;45(3):101-109. doi:10.5653/cerm.2018.45.3.101
  2. Cho CL, Agarwal A. Role of sperm DNA fragmentation in male factor infertility: A systematic review. Arab J Urol. 2018;16(1):21-34. doi:10.1016/j.aju.2017.11.002
  3. Zini A. Are sperm chromatin and DNA defects relevant in the clinic? Syst Biol Reprod Med. 2011;57(1-2):78-85. doi:10.3109/19396368.2010.515704
  4. S. IK, B. P. Review of clinical trials on effects of oral antioxidants on basic semen and other parameters in idiopathic Oligoasthenoteratozoospermia. Biomed Res Int. 2014;2014.