As 60% of couples struggling with infertility have a male factor contribution in their difficulty conceiving, higher levels of testing of the male partner is necessary. Since the 1600s, the traditional semen analysis has been the cornerstone of the male fertility evaluation. This includes measuring the semen volume, the sperm concentration (number of millions of sperm per milliliter of semen), the percent motility (sperm with movement), the percent of sperm with forward progressive motility (swimming in a rapid, forward progressive motion), and normal morphology (percent with normal shapes). Although the bulk semen analysis is a very necessary basis of a man’s fertility evaluation, it is a fairly crude predictor of outcomes. The need for functional sperm testing has emerged and sperm DNA integrity testing is the one higher level test that has come to the forefront of the science to have considerable clinical utility.
Sperm DNA fragmentation testing, which is offered at Westlake IVFs andrology laboratory, can be a helpful tool in evaluating the infertile male partner. Elevated levels of sperm DNA fragmentation have been associated with lower fertilization rates, lower pregnancy rates, and higher miscarriage rates. Currently, sperm DNA fragmentation testing is recommended for men with varicoceles (abnormally dilated veins around the testicle which increase sperm DNA fragmentation), in couples who have suffered through recurrent pregnancy losses, defined as 2 or more miscarriages, and couples who fail IVF with healthy eggs. There are interventions offered by the team at Austin Fertility & Reproductive Medicine/Westlake IVF in such situations when elevated levels of sperm DNA fragmentation are identified. As a leader in reproductive urology, Dr. Parviz Kavoussi was invited to be a co-author for a landmark research paper as a clinical guideline for sperm DNA fragmentation. Dr. Kavoussi states, “this is a very exciting time to have the privilege of providing fertility care for men as we are making new scientific discoveries to help broaden treatment options and optimize outcomes. It was a true honor to be involved in this important clinical guideline manuscript with renowned authors in the field from all over the country.”