DNA Fragmentation Index (DFI)

Male infertility is generally attributed to a lack of quantity or quality of sperm. Either the male’s sperm is of poor quality or the amount of sperm in the ejaculate is insufficient. Sometimes, however, DNA fragmentation is the cause of infertility. So, what precisely is it? Male infertility may sometimes also relate to sperm DNA Fragmentation.

Understanding Sperm DNA Fragmentation

Sperm DNA fragmentation is a term that relates to the degree of genetic damage in sperm DNA.

Sperm is the hereditary material delivered to the female’s body and is the main reason for her to conceive.  Even though the men’s sperm count, sperm mobility, and sperm quality may be good, a failed conception may sometimes be caused by an unusual genetic makeup of the sperm. These fractures in the sperm DNA are visible due to fragmentation.

Sperm DNA fragmentation has been identified as one of the primary reasons for male infertility, according to the men’s health journal.  Further research also implies that the egg cell or ovum may restore the sperm’s DNA during conception. However, such situations are uncommon, and the sperm’s DNA is often too fragmented to be fixed by the egg cell.

Factors Affecting The DNA Fragmentation Of Sperm

While the specific cause of sperm DNA fragmentation is unknown, it is most likely due to oxidative stress or defective DNA repair processes. Additional variables impacting sperm DNA fragmentation include the following:

  1. Drug Addiction
  2. Obesity
  3. Smoking
  4. Ageing
  5. Unhealthy Environmental Conditions
  6. High Fever

While it is true that a variety of lifestyle behaviours and decisions affect the DNA of sperm, there is no good evidence to support what causes it.

What Is The Sperm DNA Fragmentation Test?

A DNA test is genetic information of the sperm, a simple semen examination is insufficient to identify problems. For the same reason, specific tests are available. SCSA (Sperm Chromatin Structure Assay)[2]is the most often utilized  DNA Fragmentation test. 

The Sperm DNA Fragmentation Index SCSA is a laboratory test that analyzes the DNA integrity of a sperm sample.

The sperms are exposed to a specific chemical dye in this DNA fragmentation test.

So, if the sperm is fragmented, the DNA of the sperm becomes red. Likewise, if the sperm is good or healthy, the DNA of the sperm changes colour to green. 

Then, using specially developed software and a computer, the proportion of red to green sperm cells is computed, and thus, you get The DNA Fragmentation Index, or DFI, is determined in this manner.

This test is a better predictor of pregnancy than conventional semen analysis.

What Is Sperm DNA Fragmentation Index (DFI)?

Sperm DNA Fragmentation Index (SDFI) is a better predictor of male fertility than sperm count. It is the ratio of sperm with damaged DNA (fragmented DNA) to the total number of sperm (concentration). The higher the SDFI value, the lower the chance of fertilization.

Sperm DNA Fragmentation Index or DFI can help to determine a man’s chances of being able to get his partner pregnant. The higher the sperm count, the higher the motility and the lower the levels of DNA fragmentation, the better a man’s chances are of conceiving a child.

DNA Fragmentation Index Range

  1. When the DFI is less than or equivalent to 15%, the outcomes are excellent to good.
  2. If the DFI is around 15% and 25%, You are average.
  3. If the DFI is more than or equal to 25% but less than 50%, the outcomes are fair to the poor.
  4. The results are poor when the DFI value is more than or equivalent to 50%.

The sperm DNA fragmentation index or sperm DFI is a test that measures the amount of DNA damage to the sperm. It is a simple test that can identify if there are any issues with the sperm before in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Reasons To Check DNA Fragmentation Index

There are several causes to calculate the DNA fragmentation index (DFI) of sperm.

  1. To begin, DFI is a determinant of male fertility and sperm quality. A high DFI value suggests severe DNA damage to the sperm, resulting in decreased fertility and an increased likelihood of partners’ miscarriages or IVF failures.
  2. Second, DFI is an indicator of the integrity of sperm chromosomes. Sperm with a high DFI level decreases chromatin integrity, affecting embryo development and resulting in genetic disorders.
  3. Thirdly, DFI may help to determine the efficacy of sperm DNA repair processes. Sperm with a higher DFI have decreased levels of a DNA repair protein, implying that these sperm are far less capable of repairing DNA damage.
  4. Further, the sperm DNA fragmentation index offers a clear image of sperm viability relying on its DNA integrity. An early diagnosis may alleviate unnecessary stress and concern, and your fertility expert can tailor a treatment strategy to your specific needs.

So, by taking a DNA fragmentation test near me, you can start with an appropriate treatment plan so that you may avoid the negative consequences related to fragmented sperm.

Why Should A Male Take The Semen DNA Fragmentation Test Procedure?

If you are wondering whether to undergo a DNA fragmentation index (DFI), it is essential first to comprehend what this examination is and what it might tell you.

Further, a DFI test is a method for determining the extent of DNA damage in sperm. These facts may assess your odds of having a kid with a genetic disease. 

Additionally, as reproductive toxins become more prevalent in numerous environmental spheres, sperm fragmentation increases.

Further, note that DFI is not a precise test and cannot guarantee that you’ll have a baby without a genetic condition. However, it may provide you with some facts that can assist you in deciding whether or not to seek further testing or therapy.

If you are planning a DFI test, it is essential to see a genetic counsellor or another healthcare expert to discuss your circumstances and what you can expect from the test.

The DNA Fragmentation Test Procedure 

The DNA fragmentation test procedure is as follows:

1. Collect the man’s semen sample.

2. Separate sperm cells from sperm.

3. Retrieve the sperm cells’ DNA.

4. Fragmenting the DNA.

5. Determine the index of DNA fragmentation.

The Techniques Of DNA Fragmentation of Sperm

The main techniques for detecting SDF are as follows:

  • Sperm chromatin structure assay (SCSA)
  • Sperm chromatin diffusion assay (SCD)
  • Terminal deoxyuridine nick end labelling (TUNEL)
  • Comet assay (CA)

Among these procedures, SCSA is the most widely utilized and dependable. It needs a sperm count of roughly 1 million per millilitre.

Further, the DNA Fragmentation Test Cost varies depending on the location and type of lab you choose to carry the test.

Who Should Consider DNA Fragmentation Test?

  • Multiple unsuccessful ART cycles
  • Unexplained Infertility
  • Miscarriages
  • Males of advanced age
  • Varicocele
  • Analyses of abnormal sperm
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals such as cigarettes, alcohol, and radiation.

Treatment For DNA Fragmentation

Suppose the male partner of an infertile pair has a high level of SDF. In that case, he must strive to reduce it through lifestyle changes, antioxidant therapy, and ensuring a suitable time of abstinence. At the same time, doctors should address the underlying disorders of such individuals.

Suppose sperm DNA damage persists despite patient and doctor measures. Other approaches such as sperm selection through micromanipulation or testicular sperm retrieval should be employed to choose healthy sperm with intact nuclear DNA.

Additionally, there are a few basic lifestyle adjustments that you may undertake to prevent DNA fragmentation.

To begin, quit smoking and reduce or eliminate alcohol use. Both smoking and alcohol use are often connected with oxidative stress, which results in sperm DNA fragmentation.

Second, obesity leads to an increased risk of sperm DNA damage in infertile people. If your BMI is more than 25, it is recommended that you consume a more balanced diet and improve your physical activity to aid in weight loss.

There is also some indication that fried and junk diets might result in DNA fragmentation and sperm count reduction. Hence, even if your BMI is within a healthy range, it is prudent to exercise caution with your meals, limit unhealthy food, take the appropriate supplements, and emphasize the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.


If you are facing recurrent miscarriages and also IVF cycles despite all other medical conditions being under control or normal, you may have to undergo a DNA fragmentation test.

Dr. Namita Kotia, senior IVF specialist at Aastha Fertility Care, can recommend the best treatment approach depending on your underlying condition. Book your consultation today. 

Dr Namita Kotia

Dr Namita Kotia

Dr. Namita Kotia (IVF specialist in Jaipur) attained her Master’s in Obstetrics and Gynecology from S.N. Medical College, Jodhpur affiliated to University of Rajasthan in 1997. She has more than 10 years experience in field of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART).Presently at Aastha Fertility Care Dr. Namita along with her team is providing complete infertility work up and treatment options under one roof. Her aim is to provide proper guidance and treatment to Infertile couples at AFFORDABLE RATES.She is life member of Indian Academy of Human Reproduction (IAHR), Indian Society for Assisted Reproduction (ISAR), Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecology Society of India (FOGSI) and Jaipur Obstetrics Gynecology Society (JOGS). She has a number of publications in various journals and presentations at state and National level conferences to her credit.Dr. Namita is also recipient of best paper presentation viz “Diagnosis of Congenital Mullerian anomalies by three dimensional Transvaginal Sonography” awarded at “Kishori” Conference in Jodhpur (2000).

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