The Impact of Lifestyle Changes and Supplements on Sperm DNA Fragmentation and Fertility
Updated: Nov 22
Over the years it has become more and more clear how oxidative stress may be a significant contributor to infertility. Particularly when it comes to Sperm health. Oxidative stress can be significantly impacted from our lifestyle, dietary choices, preexisting health conditions, radiation exposure, exposure to certain heavy metals, weight, and much more.
One of the negative impacts of increased oxidative stress on the body is the harmful impact it has on sperm health. Increased oxidative stress can cause damage to the DNA content of sperm cells, particularly because antioxidants (our body’s way to neutralizing oxidative stress) are largely removed from the sperm cells along with cytoplasm to help reduce the size of the sperm head. This leaves sperm cells very vulnerable to damage from oxidative stress. One of the main methods to assess damage to the sperm DNA is the DNA Fragmentation Index (DFI). In most cases, a sperm DNA fragmentation rate above 15% is considered elevated.
We are continually learning about the potential impact increased DNA fragmentation rates may have on fertility. Sone studies have suggested it can reduce the likelihood of conception, it may significantly increase the risk of miscarriage (particularly in the first trimester), and it may be correlated with an increased risk of certain health concerns in offspring (congenital lip, heart, or lung malformations, certain childhood cancers, autism and possibly schizophrenia).
So how do lifestyle, supplements and diet affect Sperm DNA Fragmentation and Fertility?
A new study published in the Journal of Int Braz J Urol (August 8, 2021) evaluated how 3 months of diet, lifestyle, and supplements may affect Sperm DNA fragmentation rates.
They found that after 3 months of intervention with dietary changes, lifestyle changes, and introducing some basic supplements (multivitamin, Omega 3s, among additional antioxidants) significantly reduced the sperm DNA fragmentation rate in Patients that originally had a DNA Fragmentation rate > 15% (elevated DNA fragmentation rate) and had previously failed IVF cycles. On average, they found a 7.2% decrease in Sperm DNA fragmentation rates among these patients after 3 months of treatment.
The study did not find any changes in the Sperm motility or concentration after treatment with the limited scope of supplements included.
Limitations of the Study
The study size was small, with just 93 patients that had previously failed IVF/ICSI treatments. Of the 93 Patients, 38 of them (~41%) had significantly elevated Sperm DNA fragmentation rates.
Future studies with larger sample sizes are required to better understand how these interventions may impact sperm DNA fragmentation rates as well as fertility treatment success rates.
This article is being shared as educational content and is in no way a replacement for medical advice or medical care, it is advised that anyone concerned about their Health should speak with their Naturopathic Doctor. Please discuss with your healtcare provider and only make changes to your medications regimen if recommended by your doctor and under their guidance.