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Sperm DNA damage

Additional information

What is sperm DNA damage?

It takes around two months for mature sperm to be made and how the genetic material, DNA, is packaged in the sperm is complex. It has been suggested that during sperm cell maturation the DNA is susceptible to factors which may cause the DNA strands to break or fragment, furthermore that this may cause failed IVF cycles or miscarriage.

Several different tests might be used by your clinic to assess the level of DNA damage in your sperm. There is some evidence for a relationship between sperm DNA damage and the outcome of fertility treatment. However, the evidence is conflicting and depends on the type of test used by the clinic. The results of a sperm DNA damage test are unlikely to impact on the management of your treatment.

DNA fragmentation was last discussed at the October 2018 SCAAC meeting. Minutes of this discussion and the evidence used to inform this discussion are available on the SCAAC webpage. There is currently no traffic light rating for treatments relating to sperm DNA damage.

Is this test safe?

Sperm DNA damage testing is a non-invasive procedure performed on a semen sample, usually before treatment as an additional diagnostic test. This test does not carry any additional known risks for the person undergoing fertility treatment or any child born as a result of fertility treatment.

Review date: 19 October 2025