#HealthBytes: Regular yoga improves sperm DNA quality, reduces recurrent abortions
Regular yoga practice by men can reduce the incidence of recurrent spontaneous abortion as it improves the quality of sperm DNA, according to a study conducted by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi. The study was conducted by experts from the Department of Anatomy in collaboration with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and was published in Andrologia in October.
As part of the study, 60 male partners in couples with idiopathic recurrent spontaneous abortions were made to practice yoga regularly, said Rima Dada, professor-in-charge of Laboratory of Molecular Reproduction and Genetics, Department of Anatomy at AIIMS. In recurrent spontaneous abortions, as the name says, women go through three or more consecutive pregnancy losses. In many cases (50-75% of them), the cause is unknown.
Dada said the men had no history of performing yoga prior to inclusion in the study. They were made to do yoga for 90 days. "These had seminal oxidative stress and sperm DNA damage which impairs normal embryonic development post-fertilization resulting in abortion," she said.
Mentioning the causes that can damage DNA, Dada said unhealthy social habits like smoking, excess alcohol consumption, fast food calorie dense and nutritionally depleted food, sedentary lifestyle, excessive use of mobile phones, high levels of psychological stress, obesity all contribute to oxidative stress and DNA damage. Sperm DNA integrity is vital for the birth of healthy offspring and impacts its lifelong health.
Dada gives an easy advice to improve sperm DNA, saying, "Mature sperm has a very basic and incomplete DNA repair mechanism, thus it is better to follow a policy of prevention than cure by following a healthy lifestyle (increased intake of whole unprocessed plant-based foods)." She also advised minimizing exposure of intake of factors causing oxidative stress that compromise genomic integrity.
Dada, explaining the mechanism, said the adoption of yoga has shown to lower oxidative stress, reduce DNA fragmentation, and thus improve the genomic integrity and normalize sperm transcripts, positively impacting the sperm epigenome. This may aid in the normal embryonic development and reduce the incidence of genetic and epigenetic defects in the offspring and reduce the incidence of spontaneous abortions, she said.