According to recent research, the fertility of males decreases with age like that of females. As the age of the man increases, the chances of conception also decrease.
1,506 couples, who were struggling for conception because of some anonymous reasons, participated in the study. These couples had 2,425 cycles out of 24,411 IVF/ICSI cycles carried out at Monash IVF in Australia.
All participants had been through at least 1 IVF(in-vitro fertilization) and ICSI round (intracytoplasmic sperm injections).
In IVF, an egg is extracted from the female’s ovaries during the ovulation period and allowed to get fertilized with the male partner’s sperm in the laboratory dish. After fertilization, the embryo is inserted into the uterus.
In ICSI, the egg and sperm are not freely allowed in the laboratory to do fertilization, rather the sperm is injected deliberately into the egg for fertilization.
On average, the age of the men included in the study was 46 with a range of 2-77 years of age. All these men were normozoospermic (means normal sperm or normal concentration of sperms in semen). The females were 37 years old on average with the age range between 21 to 48 years.
To avoid any discrepancy in results, the study excluded couples in which the female partners had any gynecological problem like endometriosis, as well as those couples having genetic disorders or who used cryopreserved (frozen) eggs and sperms.
The analysis showed a gradual decrease in positive clinical outcomes with an increase in the male age. Particularly, the males aged above 50 resulted in significantly poor clinical pregnancy and live birth outcomes than males aged above 40 years.
However, the study had certain limitations as well. It did not identify the factors that cause fertility issues in older age. Moreover, the results may not be implied a wider population because of the strict selection criteria.
Previously, the opinion on the effect of age on masculine fertility was always controversial. Fertility decline was only associated with the increase in female age after mid-30s as the quality and number of the oocyte decreases.
For men, it was thought that the major concern comes from the increased vulnerability of sperms to infertility due to sperm DNA damage.
The co-author of the study, Beverley Vollenhoven said that clinically we have been always concerned about the effect of age of females on fertility because we have knowledge about it. However, the age of the male partner is also very important.
The lead author of this study, Fabrizzio Horta, is a clinical embryologist and Ph.D. From Monash University. He said that the findings of this study are of great importance since we have not done wide research on it ever before.
We have always focused more keenly on the knowledge of female fertility. The male fertility had always been a hidden issue.
It was surprising to find out that the male age still had an effect on fertility even when they are coupled with a young female partner.
He further added that when a male with increasing age tries for having children, these factors should be considered while helping the couples out there to conceive. They should be given choices, including the option of freezing sperm.