Age and Male Infertility
It is a misconception that men are unaffected by fertility, but in reality, men are impacted by fertility issues too. Even men have a most fertile age when it comes to having children.
Among all the factors that affect male fertility, age plays a major role. Male fertility starts to decline from the age of 35 and it is downhill from the 40s. Contrary to the belief that the fertility potential of older men is well preserved, and although sperm production occurs until death in a healthy male, research has shown that as age advances the sperm cell undergoes certain changes which might negatively impact the process of reproduction. With aging, there is a decrease in the reproductive hormonal levels which in turn reduce the sperm quality.
The sperm parameters – count, structure, motility, and DNA fragmentation are affected by age.
How do these parameters affect pregnancy chances?
Sperm count: The number of sperms released per ejaculation is called sperm count. The lower the sperm count the lesser the chances of conception. Sperm count decreases with age.
Structure: Men normally produce abnormally structured sperms but in fewer numbers. With increasing age, there is a high chance that this abnormal sperm number increases.
Motility: There is less chance of conceiving if there is less movement in the sperm. The sperm motility decreases by about 0.8% per year.
DNA Fragmentations: Sperm cells from men above the age of 40 have shown higher DNA fragmentation Index (amount of damaged DNA in a sperm), chromosomal abnormalities, a significant increase in the risk of Down’s syndrome, and congenital abnormalities in the child.
Certain age-related health conditions also cause fertility issues in an individual. Erectile dysfunction, diabetes, hypertension, etc. are a few such conditions.
Surgical options can improve sperm count and fertility treatments like micro – TESE, IVF, IUI and ICSI can help increasing the chances of having a pregnancy.