Sperm DNA fragmentation (SDF) can be caused by a variety of factors such as infection, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, smoking, drug use, or advanced age. SDF is linked to impaired fertilization, poor embryo quality, increased spontaneous abortion rates and reduced pregnancy rates after assisted reproduction.
Currently, there seems to be insufficient evidence to support the routine use of SDF in male factor evaluation nevertheless the importance of DNA fragmentation in spermatozoa has been acknowledged in the latest American Urological Association (AUA) and European Association of Urology (EAU) guidelines on male infertility.
Several strategies have been proposed to minimize the influence of abnormal chromatin integrity on ART outcomes. Obesity, smoking, toxins, pollutants, and Bisphenol A (BPA). They include intake of oral antioxidants, varicocele ligation, frequent ejaculation, and sperm sorting.
Sperm DNA Fragmentation is caused by oxidative stress, a topic we explore at length in our vitamins and fertility post! Navigating the world of supplements is tough work. That doesn’t mean that all supplements are “good” or all of them are “bad”. Finding out what works and what doesn’t is important and it’s always important to confide in your physician.
The following dietary supplements seem to have the most evidence for male fertility in general.
Analysis showed that carnitines significantly improve total sperm motility, progressive sperm motility and sperm morphology, but don’t sperm concentration. Meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products are the richest sources of L-carnitine. Tempeh, wheat, and avocados contain some L-carnitine, while fruits, vegetables, and grains contain little. It is primarily made in the liver and kidneys and plays an important role in energy production by mitochondria.
Studies have shows that vitamin E improves sperm motility (movement). Vitamin C functions to regenerate vitamin E; thus, these vitamins may work together to improve sperm function. Vitamin C has been shown to increase sperm count, motility, and morphology. Antioxidants, such as Vitamin E, which are present in some foods, can prevent damage to cells from “free radicals”, which are naturally present by-products of metabolism. Numerous studies have reported beneficial effects of antioxidant drugs on semen quality, but there is no well-defined therapeutical protocol in male infertility.
Vitamin D status has been linked with sexual function, testosterone levels and fertility. In addition, studies have found vitamin D deficiency is more prevalent among men with low semen production, quality and motility, along with lower inhibin B levels. Most of these studies we found highlighted a potential beneficial role of vitamin D on male reproductive health, particularly through a better sperm motility.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) helps generate energy in human cells. Recent studies on this enzyme’s ability to treat infertility have been very positive.
Getting enough zinc is one of the cornerstones of male fertility. Observational studies show that low zinc status or deficiency is associated with low testosterone levels, poor sperm quality, and an increased risk of male infertility.
Folic Acid is a B-vitamin that is necessary for DNA synthesis. Low levels of folic acid have been associated with a decreased sperm count and decreased sperm motility. In a recent study, the combination of zinc and folic acid results in a 75% increase in total normal sperm count in sub-fertile men.