Sadly, miscarriage is an all too common complication of pregnancy.

Around a quarter of all couples will experience the emotional heartache of miscarriage at some time or other. While most of these will be a single, sporadic miscarriage, a small number of couples will suffer repeated – or recurrent – miscarriages.

Recurrent miscarriage can be caused by a number of factors including abnormal chromosomes in the foetus, female hormonal problems or the woman’s womb. Recently scientists have found that the man is involved in miscarriages too. (Tommy’s Campaign Project 6: the impact of damaged sperm on miscarriage.)

Another significant factor in recurrent miscarriage is the quality of the sperm.

Most couples trying for a baby are probably familiar with the term ‘sperm count’, which describes the quantity of sperm.

However, what many of us know less about is sperm quality. We can examine this by looking at a man’s sperm DNA. Sperm DNA is one of the most important factors when it comes to a couple trying for a baby.

The quality of sperm DNA can be affected by things like stress, smoking, recreational drugs, obesity and other avoidable lifestyle factors. Even healthy sperm have some DNA damage, but it’s the amount of damage that matters.

High levels of sperm DNA damage can be a reason why couples who have been trying for a baby for some time have no success and why there is no obvious explanation.

Recurrent miscarriage following IVF or ICSI can also be caused by sperm DNA damage.

Sperm DNA damage can also be a major factor where couples have been successful in conceiving without any fertility treatment but have suffered a number of miscarriages. Research carried out at SpermComet shows that over 90% of recurrent miscarriage patients tested had sperm DNA damage above the levels in couples who did not miscarry. This is true for couples who conceived naturally as well as those whose conceived with fertility treatment.

For the first time a large research study on miscarriage is being undertaken in the UK. Tommy’s Campaign provides support and continued information for couples through ongoing research.