Three Hour Abstinence Significantly Reduces High Levels of Sperm DNA Fragmentation

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Three hour abstinence significantly reduces high levels of sperm DNA fragmentation

Three hour abstinence as a treatment for high sperm DNA fragmentation: a prospective cohort study

A prospective, blinded cohort study, of males undergoing an initial semen analysis at a private infertility center, was carried out to compare the sperm DNA fragmentation after 3 days of abstinence followed by 3 hours of abstinence. One hundred and twelve men, of average age 41.4 (±6.3), participated in the study with semen analysis and DNA fragmentation (Halo testing) carried out on both samples. Twenty nine of the participants also took a sperm specific anti-oxidant multi-vitamin during the study.

Initial analysis found that DNA fragmentation improved overall from 34.6% (±19.4) to 23.7% (±16.0). Further analysis found that 55% of men with high DNA fragmentation (≥ 35%) decreased this fragmentation back down to within normal range. Six percent of male samples after 3 hour abstinence resulted in worse DNA fragmentation however this increase was still within the normal range. Interestingly none of the 3 hour abstinence results changed a planned IVF without ICSI to IVF with ICSI. Further statistical analysis identified younger age and sperm specific anti-oxidants was linked to those showing a greater than 30% improvement in DNA fragmentation.


  1. Sperm DNA fragmentation was indirectly measured using HALO sperm assay instead of direct measurement
  2. Small number of participants for reliable sub-analysis and possible confounding factors
  3. Strict morphology was not measured in the second sample
  4. Change in fertilization rate or live births not included in this study

Similar studies

Marshburn P B, et al. (2014). Influence of ejaculatory abstinence on seminal total antioxidant capacity and sperm membrane lipid peroxidation.

Gosálvez J, et al. (2011). Shorter abstinence decreases sperm deoxyribonucleic acid fragmentation in ejaculate.


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