Clean Up Your Act

According to a new Australian study, having sex every day for a full week can reduce the amount of DNA damage in male sperm. The results of this study were presented in Amsterdam at the 25th yearly meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.

Up until this point, no consensus had been reached among the experts as to whether it might be best for men to avoid having sex a few days prior to attempting conception with their partners, either via natural means or through assisted reproductive techniques (ART), or whether it would be best to have sex every day around the time of ovulation. Dr. David Greening of Sydney IVF in Woolongong, Autralia said that until now, all the experts knew was that it was important to have sex on the day a woman ovulates if a couple wished to conceive. But no one knew what to advise in terms of having sex in the days leading up to either ovulation or egg retrieval for the purpose of IVF. Greening is an obstetrician/gynecologist with a subspecialty in reproductive endocrinology and infertility.

Healthier Sperm

Greening had an idea that ejaculating often might be a means for the body to replace sperm with damaged DNA with healthier sperm. In order to find out whether this hypothesis had merit, the physician assessed 118 male participants who had above average sperm DNA damage according to the DNA Fragmentation Index (DFI). Men who had a DFI of greater than 15% (DFI>15%) were deemed eligible for this study.

At the institution Sydney IVF, DNA damage of less than 15% DFI is considered "excellent," 15%-24% DFI is "good," 25%-29% is "fair," and over 29% DFI is called "poor quality." These values tend to vary from one laboratory to another in slight measure.

The instructions given to the male participants in this study were simple: the men were asked to ejaculate once a day for seven days. No other treatments or changes in lifestyle were recommended. At the inception of the study, DNA damage levels among the participants ranged from 15%-98% DFI with the average DFI after three days of abstinence at 34%.

The men had their sperm reassessed on the seventh day of the study period. Greening discovered that 96 of the men, or 81% of them had reduced their sperm DNA damage by 12%, while 22 of the men or 19% experienced an average increase in DNA damage of almost 10%. The general average for the whole group showed a decrease of 26% DFI.

Optimal Quality

Greening says that more work needs to be done to study the conception rates of men who ejaculate daily and also to determine the number of days a man needs to ejaculate in order to get the greatest reduction in sperm DNA damage with optimal quality sperm.

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