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Daily Sex Helps To Reduce Sperm DNA Damage And Improve Fertility

Date: 2-3-2010

Daily sex (or ejaculating daily) for seven days improves men's sperm quality by reducing the amount of DNA damage, according to an Australian study presented to the 25th annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Amsterdam.

Dr Greening at Sydney IVF of Australia studied 118 men who had higher than normal sperm DNA damage as indicated by a DNA Fragmentation Index (DFI). Men who had a more than 15% of their sperm (DFI >15%) damaged were eligible for the trial. At Sydney IVF, sperm DNA damage is defined as less than 15% DFI for excellent quality sperm, 15-24% DFI for good, 25-29% DFI for fair and more than 29% DFI for poor quality.

The men were instructed to ejaculate daily for seven days.  Before they started, levels of DNA damage ranged between 15% and 98% DFI, with an average 34% DFI when measured after three days' abstinence. When the men's sperm was re-assessed on the seventh day, Dr Greening found that 96 men (81%) had an average 12% decrease in their sperm DNA damage, while 22 men (19%) and an average increase in damage of nearly 10%. The average for the whole group dropped to 26% DFI.

Dr Greening said: "Although the mean average was 26% which is in the 'fair' range for sperm quality, this included 18% of men whose sperm DNA damage increased as well as those whose DNA damage decreased. Amongst the men whose damage decreased, their average dropped by 12% to just under 23% DFI, which puts them in the 'good' range. Also, more men moved into the 'good' range and out of the 'poor' or 'fair' range. These changes were substantial and statistically highly significant.

"In addition, we found that although frequent ejaculation decreased semen volume and sperm concentrations, it did not compromise sperm motility and, in fact, this rose slightly but significantly.

"Further research is required to see whether the improvement in these men's sperm quality translates into better pregnancy rates, but other, previous studies have shown the relationship between sperm DNA damage and pregnancy rates.

"The optimal number of days of ejaculation might be more or less than seven days, but a week appears manageable and favorable. It seems safe to conclude that couples with relatively normal semen parameters should have sex daily for up to a week before the ovulation date. In the context of assisted reproduction, this simple treatment may assist in improving sperm quality and ultimately achieving a pregnancy. In addition, these results may mean that men play a greater role in infertility than previously suspected, and that ejaculatory frequency is important for improving sperm quality, especially as men age and during assisted reproduction cycles."

Dr Greening said he thought the reason why sperm quality improved with frequent ejaculation was because the sperm had a shorter exposure in the testicular ducts and epididymis to reactive oxygen species - very small molecules, high levels of which can damage cells. "The remainder of the men who had an increase in DFI might have a different explanation for their sperm DNA damage," he concluded.

DPE: The reason that SCSA Diagnostics recommends two ejaculations prior to the sample submitted for our SCSA test is to flush out old sperm stored in the epididymis that have reduced DNA quality.  For example, an ejaculation on Monday and Wednesday and collect the sample on Friday.  There may be exceptions to this rule, but evidence suggests this plan provides the freshest ejaculated sperm that is reflection of the true quality of testicular sperm.