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J Assist Reprod Genet. 2013 Sep;30(9):1211-8. doi: 10.1007/s10815-013-0089-8. Epub 2013 Sep 1.

One abstinence day decreases sperm DNA fragmentation in 90 % of selected patients.

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URH García del Real, C/Ana Teresa 30, 28023, Madrid, Spain,



The aim of this prospective descriptive study was to evaluate the efficacy of reducing sexual abstinence as a strategy to decrease sperm DNA fragmentation.


Men with one or more of the following characteristics were included in the study: older than 44, smoking more than 10 cigarettes per day, with a body mass index over 25, diabetes mellitus, varicocele, a previous chemotherapy treatment, severe oligozoospermia, prostatitis, cryptorchidism, having a partner with recurrent miscarriage and/or implantation failure, poor embryo morphology and/or fertilization failure. Patients were asked to produce a semen sample after 3 to 7 abstinence days which was subjected to a sperm DNA fragmentation test. When DNA fragmentation was above or equal to 30 %, it was considered to be altered. Patients with increased DNA fragmentation were asked to produce another semen sample following a "one abstinence day protocol". This protocol required producing up to three semen samples with 1 day of abstinence and measuring sperm DNA fragmentation.


Four hundred and sixteen patients produced a first semen sample after a sexual abstinence of 3 to 7 days. Sperm DNA fragmentation was altered in 46 samples (11.1 %). Thirty five patients with increased DNA fragmentation samples completed the "one abstinence day protocol". DNA fragmentation decreased to normal values in one of the three attempts in 91.4 % of the patients: 81.3 % in the first attempt, 12.5 % in the second try and 6.3 % in the third.


This approach could be a simple, low-cost and effective way to decrease sperm DNA damage to normal values.

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