Does age affect men’s fertility? – fertility clinic near Phoenix
Most people are aware that older women tend to have more trouble conceiving than do younger women. However, there’s also a very common belief that age doesn’t matter for men. Many people believe that men can father babies whenever they want, and that only the mother’s age matters. Is this true? Does age affect men’s fertility?
Age does impact men’s fertility
Although many people don’t realize this, age does matter for men too. In fact, age matters for male fertility a lot more than most people believe. Although men don’t have a complete end to their natural fertility around age 50 (as women experience when they go through menopause), men’s fertility declines dramatically as they age, much like women’s fertility does.
For example, researchers looked at a large group of couples with a female partner under 25 years old. All of these couples were trying to conceive a baby naturally. If the male partner was also under 25, the average time it took to conceive was a little over four months. However, if the male partner was 40 or older, the average time to conceive was nearly two years.
Even if a couple turned to IVF, the man’s age still had an impact on the success rates. If the man was 41 or older, the chances of the couple not ending up with a baby were five times higher than if he was under 25.
The risk of miscarriage in the female partner is also affected by the male partner’s age. If he’s over 45, then the risk of miscarriage is doubled, compared to a couple with a male partner under 25. Again, the age of the female partner was under 25 in all of the couples.
Even in the case of a successful live birth, the baby’s health can still be impacted by the age of the father. Older fathers are more likely to have children with Down syndrome and schizophrenia.
How does age cause changes in men’s fertility?
Many aspects of sperm production are affected by aging. A man’s sperm count decreases greatly with age. Sperm motility also declines with age. This causes sperm to be less capable of completing the difficult process of approaching and fertilizing an egg. In addition, the percentage of sperm with an abnormal shape also increases with age. Sperm with an abnormal shape may be less capable of swimming well enough to get to an egg, or may be unable to fertilize it even if they do encounter one. Reproductive technology can help to compensate for low sperm count and difficulty with fertilization by using IVF and ICSI, in which the sperm is directly injected into the egg to ensure fertilization.
Sperm also have a greater chance of genetic abnormalities in older men. This is why the likelihood of genetic disorders rises in children born to older men. It’s also why, even after an egg is fertilized, the incidence of miscarriage is higher when the father is older. Genetic changes in the sperm can affect the embryo’s ability to grow and develop properly. Reproductive technology does not change the genetic makeup of sperm, although technicians can select the healthiest embryos for transfer into the uterus to maximize the chances of a healthy baby. There’s also the option of using donor sperm, for those who don’t see the success they’re looking for with their own sperm.
Because of these age-related changes in the sperm, some men choose to have some of their sperm frozen while they’re in their 20s. This may provide a higher-quality sperm sample later on, when they’re ready to father a child.
Fertility clinic near Phoenix
We would certainly never encourage anyone to have kids before they’re ready. However, if you would like to have kids in the future, it’s important to have all of the information so that you can plan. We don’t want anyone to falsely believe that age doesn’t matter for men’s fertility, only to find that having a child is more difficult than they thought that it would be. If you’d like to have kids, make sure you consider the impact of aging on both partners when planning.
At our award-winning fertility clinic near Phoenix, we see patients of all ages. If you’re interested in discussing any of these issues, or if you’d like more information about freezing sperm for future use, please contact us to schedule a consultation. We always enjoy informing and educating people about fertility. We love to see happy families in our community!