With increasing evidence for faulty paternal contribution to reproduction, there has been a steady increase in studies highlighting an association between sperm DNA damage, failed/delayed fertilisation and aberrant embryo development. Owing to prevailing ambiguity, the aims of the study were to analyse the genetic integrity of the male gamete and then to understand its association with age, standard semen parameters, lifestyle and occupational factors. The study included 504 subjects, attending university infertility clinic for fertility evaluation and treatment. Semen characteristics were analysed by standard criteria; terminal deoxynucelotidyl transferase-mediated nick end-labelling assay was employed for DNA damage assessment. The average incidence of sperm DNA damage in patients with normozoospermic semen parameters was <10%. Patients with oligozoospermia, severe oligozoospermia, oligoasthenoteratospermia, asthenoteratozoospermia and necrozoospermia had significantly higher level of sperm DNA damage (P<0.001). Patients above 40years of age had significantly high levels of DNA damage (P<0.001) compared with their counterparts. Patients with varicocele and a history of alcohol consumption had higher incidence of spermatozoa with DNA damage (P<0.01). Poor sperm characteristics in the ejaculate are associated with increased sperm DNA damage. Age-related increase in sperm DNA damage and association of the same with varicocele and alcohol consumption are also demonstrated.
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