Beyond the basics: Advanced semen analysis
When your male partner is diagnosed with male factor infertility, you’ll likely want to learn as much about it as you can. For most couples, standard semen analysis can quickly pinpoint whether enough sperm are present and whether they can move and are shaped normally.
But for some men, more advanced semen analysis is needed to determine whether a sperm DNA abnormality could be preventing fertilization or contributing to recurrent miscarriages.
Fragmentation of sperm DNA can affect the sperm’s ability to fertilize an egg, and has also been associated with miscarriage. If 30% of sperm have damaged DNA, studies show, the man has a lower chance of fathering a child, even through IVF and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
Our advanced semen analysis testing
If your partner’s first semen analysis is abnormal, a second analysis will be ordered to verify that the result is not just an anomaly. Depending on the findings, our fertility specialists may then order additional advanced semen analysis to ensure that your partner’s sperm DNA is normal.
- Sperm chromatin structural assay. This test measures the prevalence of DNA fragmentation within the sperm head. In this test, 5,000 to 10,000 sperm are placed in a flow cytometer to measure what percentage contain broken strands of DNA or abnormal proteins.
- Halosperm test. In this test, sperm DNA are stained with a colored agent, then the sperm are treated with a special acid that causes normal DNA to leak through the membrane and form a visible halo around the head of the sperm. “Broken” DNA does not disperse, revealing which sperm have fragmented DNA.
Exposure to smoking, heat, chemicals and free radicals can all cause damage to sperm DNA. If advanced semen analysis finds that 30% or more sperm have abnormal DNA integrity, we may recommend that your partner take antioxidants for at least three months.
For many men diagnosed with fragmented DNA, biological fatherhood is still possible through IVF with ICSI. Using a test called PICSI, andrologists in our IVF lab place the sperm in a petri dish with hyaluronan, to which normal, healthy sperm will adhere. Then, the andrologists can select the best quality sperm for ICSI, increasing the chances of fertilization and fatherhood.
To learn more about advanced semen analysis or to begin male infertility testing, contact us to schedule a consultation.