The early-stage study, from scientists at Imperial College London, investigated the sperm quality of 50 men whose partners had suffered three or more consecutive miscarriages.

published in the journal Clinical Chemistry, reported that, compared to men whose partners had not experienced miscarriages, the sperm of those involved in the study had higher levels of DNA damage. The study team hopes these findings may open new avenues for finding treatments to reduce the risk of miscarriage. Recurrent miscarriage affects around one in 50 couples in the UK and is defined as the consecutive loss of three or more pregnancies before 20 weeks gestation.

Until recently recurrent miscarriage was thought to be caused by health issues with the mother, such as infection or immune problems. However, doctors now realize sperm health may also play a role, explained Dr. Channa Jayasena, lead author of the research from Imperial's Department of Medicine: and the health of their sperm was not analyzed.

"However, this research adds to a growing body of evidence that suggests sperm health dictates the health of a pregnancy ." For instance, previous research suggests that there is an important role in the formation of the placenta, which is crucial for oxygen and nutrient supply to the fetus. " In the new research, the team analyzed the sperm of 50 men who were patients at the Recurrent Miscarriage Clinic at St. Mary's Hospital in London, part of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. 

Sperm Health

They then compared the results to the sperm health of 60 male volunteers whose partners had not suffered a miscarriage. The analysis revealed sperm from men with partners who had suffered recurrence miscarriage had twice as much DNA compared to the control group. The research team suggests so-called reactive oxygen species may trigger this DNA damage.

There are molecules formed by cells in semen (the fluid that contains sperm cells) to protect sperm from bacteria and infection. However, in high enough concentrations the particles can cause significant damage to sperm cells. The results from the study revealed that the partners had suffered from miscarriage had a four-fold increase in the number of reactive oxygen species compared to the control group.

The research team is now investigating what may trigger high levels of these reactive oxygen species. Dr. Jayasena explained: "Although none of the men in the trial had an infection such as chlamydia – which we know can affect sperm health – it is possible there may be other bacteria from previous infections lingering in the prostate gland, which makes semen This may lead to permanently high levels of reactive oxygen species. "