What you should know about male age and fertility
Wondering about male age and infertility? Couples who wish to become pregnant, but have trouble conceiving, enlist the help of Midwest Reproductive Center and our fertility specialist, Dr. Dan Gehlbach. Dr. Gehlbach provides semen analysis for the male partner, and advanced reproductive technologies to address serious sperm disorders. When it comes to male infertility, Dr. Gehlbach proactively educates couples on risk factors and male fertility boosters.
One question that does not typically arise in a fertility consultation, but warrants attention, relates to age and male fertility.
Is there a link between male age and fertility?
Yes. Dr. Gehlbach tells his patients that a man’s ability to father a child decreases every year due to sperm quality and quantity. He will continue to produce sperm throughout his lifetime, but occurrences of male infertility and sperm quality issues increase as a man ages. Fertility specialists will watch for abnormalities in sperm count, morphology (shape) and motility (movement) in the aging male partner.
Both males and females begin the reproductive phase of life during puberty in the teen years. Unlike women, who have an age marker to watch (35), age and fertility in men is not as clearly defined. The sperm a man produces begin a new life cycle every 72 days. Current age, health habits and cell replication contribute to the sperm health of that particular “batch.”
Studies show that age-related risks for genetic abnormalities increase with a man’s age:
- Babies born to men older than 45 have higher rates of schizophrenia.
- Children of elderly fathers have a 20 percent increase in the risk for autosomal dominant diseases.
- Men 40 and older who conceive a child are six times more likely to have a child with autism.
- Studies show that when both partners are over 35, there is an increased risk for Down’s syndrome.
The chances for having a healthy baby decrease because older men are more likely to have defects in their sperm. Aging and male infertility are linked at a microscopic level. Sperm from aging men, when examined under a microscope, show fragmented DNA.
To counteract the risk, preimplantation genetic diagnosis, performed in conjunction with IVF, enables Dr. Gehlbach to transfer only genetically sound embryos.
When does a sperm donor become necessary?
When a man does not produce an adequate number of sperm in the ejaculate, Dr. Gehlbach can rely on sperm retrieval procedures as well as the IVF lab technique — intracytoplasmic sperm injection ICSI. Enlisting a sperm donor becomes necessary when no sperm are present, or when paternal age is a factor in male infertility.
According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine:
“Sperm quality deteriorates somewhat as men get older, but it generally does not become a problem before a man is in his 60s.” Read more here about Fertility and the Aging Male.
Should I see a doctor if I am experiencing problems with libido or erections?
Your primary care physician or a urologist can address issues with sexual function, and treat low testosterone levels. Diabetes, heart disease, cancer and a host of minor health issues can impact your reproductive health. A complete physical can provide peace of mind, or raise red flags, for couples trying to conceive.
Contact us at Midwest Reproductive Center to schedule a complete female infertility evaluation, or to inquire about semen analysis in conjunction with female infertility testing.