Very High Sperm DNA Fragmentation – Just Our Luck

by Elle on July 24, 2012

I’m officially calling this month ‘the month of anxiety’.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve never been the type to accept when my doctors tell me things are within “normal or abnormal range”. I want to know the exact number so that I can go home and analyze exactly where in the “normal or abnormal range” those numbers lie.

For some reason, I didn’t do this with BF’s DNA fragmentation test results.

My infertility clinic does sperm DNA fragmentation tests before IVF, which is great and costs an extra $275. I’ve heard that most clinics don’t bother with this until after an unsuccessful IVF cycle.

DNA fragmentation tests basically give a snapshot view of the amount of damage in the sperm that can decrease the chance of pregnancy or if there is a successful pregnancy, it can increase the likelihood of a miscarriage.

Even men with perfectly normal sperm have some level of DNA fragmentation, but it’s all in the numbers.

I got these levels from here:

  • <20% = good quality sperm DNA
  • 20 – 30 % = heterogeneous sperm DNA
  • > 30 % = very deteriorated sperm DNA

When I got the results of BF’s DNA fragmentation, he said it’s one of the highest he’s seen, which is why BF is taking these vitamins for the next few months.

Ignorance really is bliss, because I had NO idea just how bad his results were until I googled them today.

Anything over 20% reduces the success of ICSI

I wanted to cry when I read this because BF’s results were 70%.  I didn’t understand how grave our situation was until today.

I don’t know why our RE didn’t fully describe how horrible these results were at our last appointment. Maybe I’m glad he didn’t because I went home with $100 vitamins never truly understanding what I had just been told.

This further decreases the likelihood that IVF with ICSI will be a success for us.

I’ve spent the last few hours reading anything I can about having DNA fragmentation of 70% and every forum on it is filled with people talking about how horrible their chances were with 30%. We’re dealing with more than double that!

Throughout this entire infertility process of getting test after test, disappointment after disappointment, I’ve always been positive. When BF was down and doubting things, I just knew that things would work out in the end and even managed to convince him.

For the first time today, I wonder if I was just being naive and overly optimistic.

Very few blogs dealing with male factor infertility even talk about DNA fragmentation, I finally found one  and this made me cry…

“bear in mind that this test does not have a predictive values of 100% as healthy babies have been born from men with high DFI but this is fairly uncommon.”

Do any of you have experience with DNA fragmentation?


{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Nahima August 11, 2012 at 1:20 am

It’s weird to write to someone I don’t know about something so personal but i’m dealing with the same problem my DH has 60% of high fragmentation dna and we are trying a IVF ICSI for the first time…
when we first received the results I just cried cause I had already looked up a bit about it…
but strangely our clinic is confident as my husband will have sperm retrieved directly from the testicules ( i think it’s called TESA)
I am and I am not confident…by the way we’ve been trying for over 3 years so I really can’t imagine being pregnant so easily on the first try…
feel free to contact me as it’s hard to find people knowing about this dna issue…..


Elle August 28, 2012 at 5:47 pm

I’ve heard good things about TESA. I think I remember reading about the sperm being less fragmented because they extract it directly.

I know what you mean about crying over this. I didn’t know much about it when I heard it from the doctor and he downplayed it so much that I didn’t realize just how bad 70% really is.

I’d love to hear about your journey! I wish you all the best with IVF! :)


Sailu August 10, 2013 at 3:59 am

Hi, we have also the same problem. DNA 60% damaged. This time we want to try with the sperms directly extracted from testies.


lucia August 25, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Hi my english is not perfect, but let me tell You we are dealing with same problem now almost two years. My husband sperm DNA fragmentation is 55. During this time he has been tested couple of time and the best result he got was 33, but then is went back in a month to 50. He has visited andrologis but he did not help him. He is taking tons of antioxidant and eating very healthy diet but it does not seem to help. We tried Maca, Q10, Zinc. vitamic E,C,D,B, pycnogenol, rosveratrol, astaxantin, ……and still we have got BFN twice, when we transfered both times two perfect blastocyst. Some say that PISCI helps, so we are gonna try with our next cycle. I do know couple, who had BFP with high DNA fragmentation, guess they were lucky. What is Your husband fragmentation? What did you try?


Elle August 28, 2012 at 5:44 pm

Hi Lucia,

We’re dealing with DNA fragmentation of 70%. At this point I would probably feel more hopeful if we were able to get it down to 50%, but I understand that under 30% is ideal.

It gives me some hope to hear that a couple has been able to be successful with high DNA fragmentation. Did they use IVF?

We’ve only been told to try vitamins, which he’s been taking religiously for 2 months, but our doctor was honest in saying that it might not help. We’ll still proceed with IVF/ICSI and hope for the best.

I’d love to hear about your progress. Good luck!!!


Sailu August 10, 2013 at 3:56 am

Hi, we have also the same problem. DNA 60% damaged. This time we want to try with the sperms directly extracted from testies; believed that they are less fragmented and many people got BFP. How about you?


Vanessa July 10, 2013 at 8:23 pm

Hi there,

My husband had very high fragmentation of 85%, I also have PCOS, the doctors told us that we might as well spend our money on a holiday rather than IVF as the chance of it working was almost nil.

My husband started taking Chinese herbs, menevit, and also increased his intake of nuts and fruit. He stopped drinking caffeine and any alcohol.

We had two unsuccessful rounds of ivf using ICSI but on the third round it worked! We now have a healthy four month old daughter, our own little miracle


Elle July 16, 2013 at 1:05 am

Congratulations Vanessa!!

Thank you so very much for sharing your success story. It’s often very difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you’re in the situation, and success stories are that light at the end :)


Nadya Bruno Olivier August 17, 2013 at 3:54 pm

Hi Vanessa,

It is such joy to read your comment and thank you because even if you have your little angel you still took the time to write down your experience which is a ray of hope for a lot of others … Including me.

Would be able to share what type of Chinese herbs your husband used?

Congrats to you and your husband!!



sailu July 11, 2013 at 12:54 pm


My DNA fragmentation Index is also so high- 65%. Tried ICSI 3 times. BFN. Some times DFI is around 50%. Again going for ICSI with little hope. Doctors say, this time try with TESE sperms. How to improve this? will TESE really help? Any experience, Please share.


Elle July 16, 2013 at 1:04 am

Hi there,
I’m sorry to hear that you’re going through this. I’ve heard that people have had more success with TESE sperm, but I don’t much knowledge as my partner and I haven’t gotten there yet. We haven’t actually started the IVF process at this point.

If you see Vanessa’s comment above, they’ve had some success despite the high DNA fragmentation.

I wish you all the very, very best!


Sailu August 10, 2013 at 3:51 am

Elle, Thanks for reply. I have been listening many success stories with high DNA fragmentation and TESE. I want to take a last chance with TESE sperms.


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