It may be possible to avoid sperm DNA damage interfering with in vitro fertilization, researcher says.


WASHINGTON, D.C.—Frequent ejaculation may help reduce sperm DNA damage, according to a recent pilot study.

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The mechanism could be through reduced sperm transit time through the epididymis, thereby reducing the opportunity for reactive oxygen species (ROS)-induced DNA damage, explained lead investigator David Greening, MD, a reproductive subspecialist and a senior lecturer at the University of Wollongong Medical School in Wollongong, Australia. He presented study findings here at the annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.


The study included 42 men with a raised sperm chromatin structural assay (SCSA) level greater than 15%. The men were selected from a cohort of 138 couples investigated for either recurrent miscarriage or repeated in vitro fertilization (IVF) failure. Initial SCSA levels and semen parameters were assessed on all men after three days of abstinence.


For this study, less than 15% SCSA was considered normal, 15%-27% low abnormal, greater than 27% as high abnormal. After enrollment, the treatment involved single daily ejaculation for seven days and a repeat measurement of SCSA and semen parameters on day 7 only.


After day 3 of abstinence, the mean SCSA level was 30.8% (range 15%-98%). After seven days, the mean SCSA level was 20.0%. A decrease in SCSA was observed in 37 of the 42 men. The mean reduction in these 37 men was 12.8%. The other five men had a mean 10% increase in mean SCSA level. The mean sperm count was 201.76 million on day 3 and 67.6 million on day 7. The mean progressive motility was 42.8% on day 3 and 44.9% on day 7. In terms of morphology, the normal forms were a mean of 3.16% on day 3 and 3.52% on day 7.


“Overall, we found that daily ejaculation for seven days almost cut in half the average DNA damage among the guys who had high DNA damage,” Dr. Greening said. “This is the first study like this, and the clinical implications are that if a patient has to go into assisted reproduction and have IVF, then it may be possible to improve DNA damage that is causing IVF failure.”