A sperm test for DNA fragmentation could help couples trying to conceive select a more successful method. Unlike IVF, which involves mixing an egg with many sperm in a test tube, ICSI requires a doctor to select the most healthy sperm available and inject one into the egg with a needle. Photo by vchal/Shutterstock
LUND, Sweden, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Additional analysis of sperm in couples trying to conceive can help doctors select the most appropriate form of fertility treatment to increase the chance of a successful pregnancy, according to a new study.
Researchers at Lund University in Sweden found sperm DNA fragmentation index, or DFI, analysis allows for a better decision between standard in vitro fertilization and intracytoplasmic sperm injection, which they say can limit the physical and mental stress of seeking medical assistance to reproduce.
Unlike IVF, which involves mixing an egg with a large number of sperm in a test tube with the goal of a sperm entering the egg on its own, ICSI involves doctors selecting a single healthy sperm and injecting it into an egg.
"We hope that these results will mean that involuntarily childless couples are offered the most effective treatment right away," said Aleksander Giwercman, a professor at Lund University, in a press release. "Undergoing unsuccessful assisted reproduction can be very stressful -- both physically and mentally -- especially if done repeatedly."
Researchers working on the study, published in the journal Andrology, analyzed medical records for 1,633 IVF or ICSI cycles performed at the Reproductive Medicine Center at Skåne University Hospital between 2007 and 2013 for couples in which the men had undergone DFI testing.
The fertilization cycles were broken into four groups based on DFI analysis: DFI less than 10 percent; DFI between 10 and 20 percent; DFI between 20 and 30 percent; and DFI higher than 30 percent. The data showed the higher DFI increased, the less successful standard IVF was. For DFIs above 20 percent, the odds of a live birth were statistically significantly higher using the ICSI method.
"Traditionally the main focus has been on the woman in cases where couples have difficulties to conceive," Giwercman said. "But our research and experience show that it is important to thoroughly study both partners."