Center for Reproductive and Fetal Medicine

OXIDATIVE STRESS: THE MAIN CAUSE OF SPERM DNA DAMAGE

OXIDATIVE STRESS: THE MAIN CAUSE OF SPERM DNA DAMAGE

For 1 in 6 couples who need help to start a family, male factors will be the cause of up to 30% of infertility problems. Although a general sperm analysis remains the "golden rule" for assessing sperm quality (controls of factors such as volume, number, motility, morphology, etc.), the 25 - 40% of male infertility cases could remain "unexplained" after sperm analysis.

 

One factor that could cause this "unexplained" infertility is oxidative stress. High levels of oxidative stress have been linked to poor sperm function and cell damage to DNA, potentially increasing the risk of failed IVF results. But what is oxidative stress and how does it affect male fertility?

 

 

What is oxidative stress?

The oxygen that enters our body through respiration is utilized at a rate of 95% for energy production, while the remaining 5% is used for the production of free radicals.

Free radicals in small quantities are essential for our immune system, and when their concentration rises above normal, they can cause a variety of problems, such as damage to tissues, cell membranes and cell DNA, including sperm. This is called oxidative stress.

 

 

Oxidative stress and male fertility

High levels of oxidative stress have been linked to poor sperm function, abnormal sperm analysis results and failed IVF results. There is evidence that high levels of oxidative stress can cause changes in sperm membranes, affecting their morphology and motility, as well as damaging their DNA. This DNA damage could lead to lower pregnancy rates and a higher risk of miscarriage.

 

 

What causes oxidative stress?

Our ability to produce antioxidants is controlled by our genetic makeup and can be influenced by the lifestyle and diet we follow. Free radical production is increased by many factors, such as smoking, alcohol and poor quality diet high in saturated fats, as well as aging and overweight. The production of antioxidants in our body should be sufficient to balance the production of free radicals, but for many people there may be more free radicals, leading to cell damage and long-term health effects.

 

 

Dealing with high levels of oxidative stress

As sperm is created every day, you can improve the quality of your sperm in just three months with simple lifestyle changes.

 

The important thing to remember is that once we have a diagnosis of sperm oxidative stress (or any other male infertility problem), there are many things we can do to give you the best chance of conceiving.

 

* The content on this blog is not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health care providers with questions you may have about medical conditions.

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FREQUENT QUESTIONS

The association of IVF drugs with cancer risk is a major concern for women enrolled in these programs. But the plethora of bibliographic reports collected from credible scientific studies and published in reputable medical journals worldwide are reassuring and do not confirm this concern.

Of course not. In about a third of cases, infertility is due to the woman (female factor), while in a third of cases, it is due to the man (male factor). The remaining one-third is due to both (both men and women) or even to unknown factors.

The quantity and quality of a man's sperm can be affected by his health and lifestyle. Some factors that can reduce the quantity and / or quality of sperm are:

  • the alcohol
  • drugs
  • environmental toxins, including pesticides and lead
  • smoking
  • health problems
  • medicines
  • radiotherapy and chemotherapy
  • the age

Success rates vary at each IVF Center. Very important factors are also the age of the woman, the levels of her hormones and of course the sperm of the husband. Rates generally range from 45% or slightly higher for women up to 35 years old.

Infertility is defined as the failure to conceive after one year (or 6 months, if it is a woman over 35) with normal, regular sexual intercourse. In other words, when a year passes without the woman becoming pregnant, the couple should consult their doctor to determine the cause of the pregnancy and then treat it. We must all, however, be aware and not forget that the age factor is the most critical for female fertility and that the individualized approach of each couple is the "golden key" that solves the problem.

The number of treatment cycles a woman can undergo is not specified. It is certain that in our country there are high level obstetricians-gynecologists and organized infertility treatment centers, which offer impeccable medical services at this level. If there are correct indications (eg ovaries that respond to stimulation therapy, good quality endometrium, etc.) the success rate -especially with the use of newer techniques and biotechnological drugs, which show increased bioactivity compared to conventional drugs from urine- totals approximately 65%-70% after 4 cycles of treatment.

At the Center for Reproductive Medicine of Dr. Traianos we offer egg / sperm cryopreservation services for those who have a personal or medical reason and need this service. We use the most modern vitrification technique in the freezing of sperm and eggs.

The collection of eggs takes 10-15 minutes, it is not painful, it is done under intoxication and after the end of the process you return to your activities.

In general, experts agree that the fact that a couple has already had a child can be considered evidence that there is no infertility problem in the first place. It is like a small test that has been done and proves that they "succeeded" at least once. On the other hand, we need to know that in the meantime things may have changed and a problem may have arisen (eg the man may have had some inflammation that affects the quality of his sperm or has mediated something that affects female fertility: an inflammation, a gynecological surgery, an abortion, etc.). In any case, if a reasonable period of time (one year) passes and a couple can not achieve a pregnancy, then he should with the help of his doctor investigate if there has been a problem that causes infertility.