Male Fertility: Nobody Grows Younger… That Includes Your Sperm.

Photo of adult hand and child's hand

There has been a trend in the US to delay childbearing for the past several decades.   Many people put off having children in the pursuit of an education and or a career.  During the past few years, with the backdrop of COVID, many couples put attempts to conceive on hold altogether.   For some men, this has brought into focus the question of the effect of age on fertility.

A paper in the Journal of Fertility and Sterility August 2021 by Marsidi et al.  explored the issue of decreasing male fertility with age specifically in the setting of IVF (in Vitro Fertilization).   Success rates for IVF cycles were  correlated with the age of the male partner.  The data set for this study included information from over 77,000 IVF cycles obtained through SART (The Society of Assisted Reproductive Technology)..  

The authors found that, compared with paternal age of 45 years or less, IVF cycles where the paternal age was 46 or older were associated with a statistically significant lower chance of pregnancy per cycle as well as a lower live birth rate per cycle; however, the effect of paternal age was significant only in couples where the female partner was 35 years of age or older.    Furthermore, abnormal semen analysis was more common in men 46 years of age or older. 

The data suggest that, although paternal age is a significant factor in IVF outcome, maternal age remains the more important parameter.    The observation on semen analysis further supports the concept of decreasing male fertility with age.

These findings largely support what one may have expected and offers useful confirmation.    Furthermore, in the setting of a male in his late thirties or early forties who has not found a partner, but wants to maximize his chances of pregnancy in the future, this information does offer a perspective on whether that person might consider sperm banking for his own future. 

Eric K. Seaman MD Dr. Seaman is a urologist specializing in the field of Male Reproductive Medicine and Surgery. Dr. Seaman Completed his Male Infertility Fellowship under the direction of Larry I. Lipshultz MD at Baylor College of Medicine Houston in 1996. Since that time he has focused his practice on the sub-subspecialty focus area of Male fertility and infertility.

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