Age’s impact on male fertility
Generally speaking, advanced male age impacts fertility in a variety of ways. It may cause longer time to conception, decreased sperm quality, and increased risk for miscarriages and birth defects. More about male fertility from experts in 3on1 #IVFANSWERS:
- Buse Karanlık, Embryologist, Cyprus Dunya IVF Clinic
- Dr Roxolana Semchyshyn, M.D., Head of IVF department, Intersono IVF Clinic
- Dr. Luboš Vlček, Physician, GYNEM Fertility Clinic Prague
Answer from Dr Karanlık - Embryologist
Sperm analysis is an important fertility test for infertile couples. Each couple basically needs to get this test done before any infertility treatments are prescribed. A proper sperm analysis should include: sperm volume, total sperm count, morphology, motility and sperm vitality. One third of infertility cases involves just a man, one third of infertility cases involves just a woman and one third of infertility cases involves both a man and a woman. There are also some unexplained infertilities where the main reasons are not really known. Therefore, it is really important that the patients took the fertility tests before any treatments are prescribed. This doesn’t mean that if a male fertility test is normal, a female fertility test is going to be normal, too. So it should be known beforehand. There is a lot of scientific research in the literature showing that there is a significant fall in total sperm count, morphology, vitality, motility and the volume of the sperm after the male age of 35. So this is one of the problems that can occur with the advancing age. Besides, there are other papers proving that there are no significant differences in the development of day 2 and 3 embryos, however, there is a significant difference in the blastocyst formation on day 5. Basically, this may be the cause of the male genomic activation within the embryo. This is just one of male factors on the male side.
Let’s consider fertility first. As we all know, fertility is not a just one-sided thing. It involves both a female and a male. As there are problems that may occur with the advancing age of a male, there is the potential of problems occurring with the advancing female age, too. There is one central problem: older men tend to be with older women. So in the scientific research papers, it is not really known if there is a male factor affecting the infertility cases or is it the paternal or the maternal age that is related to the infertility outcomes. There is a lot of research showing that the advancing maternal age is also influencing the quality of the gamete. Research proves that the females over 40 years old have poorer quality of oocytes – it means that fewer oocytes are fertilised or retrieved during the oocyte retrieval. The literature also shows that the women over 40, compared to the younger ones, have a higher risk of unsuccessful pregnancy and also about 20% risk of not achieving a live birth.
In summary, advancing maternal and paternal age really affect the IVF outcomes. So yes, as far as
sperm tests are concerned, sperm tests’ results can be changed along with the partner’s age.
Answer from Dr Semchyshyn - Head of IVF department
First of all, sperm parameters can be influenced by lifestyle. It means: alcohol, smoking and stress. Besides, inflammatory processes and sexually transmitted diseases can have impact on sperm parameters. What about age? Age can also have some influence, mostly in cases when we had previously some disorders in the sperm parameters. If we have normal zoospermia, the age doesn’t strictly affect the sperm quality.
Answer from Dr Vlček - Physician
Not only the age of a woman but also the age of a man is influencing the outcomes of infertility treatment. With the rising age of a man, the testosterone levels are sinking down and the number of genetic disorders in the semen samples is rising. So even with the good sperm concentration, the outcomes of IVF treatment in case of men over the age of 45 are worse than in case of younger men.