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Is There a Link Between Age and Male Fertility?
There is a scientifically proven link between age and declining male fertility. Many people assume age affects only female fertility. However, studies have shown male fertility lessens as men age, too. The following examines the link between age and male fertility and proposes some options for protecting fertility if you’re not quite ready to build your family today.
Changes to male sexual function
As men age, conception can take longer and pregnancy becomes more difficult to achieve. Once men hit 40 years old, they are about 30% less likely to reach conception during a 12-month effort to procreate. Other factors that can affect this success rate include decreased sexual activity and erectile dysfunction, both potentially associated with increased age.
Maintaining a healthy sex life is one way to support your fertility. Make sure to practice safe sex to avoid sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), which can damage your sperm. Pay attention to your ejaculated semen and urine and report any unusual symptoms or observations to your doctor, especially if you experience pain during sexual intercourse or while urinating.
Changes to sperm quality
As men age, their sperm loses some of the features that enable it to reach and fertilize a healthy egg in utero. Male factor infertility may be attributable to low sperm concentration (oligospermia), inadequate sperm motility (asthenospermia), or abnormal sperm shape/morphology (teratospermia). Men in their 40s and 50s see sperm concentration drop to roughly half of what it was in their 20s and 30s. Similarly, motility and morphology have been shown to decline by almost 1% annually.
Other factors that can negatively impact sperm quality as a man ages include mild decrease in seminal volume, as well as loss of function in the epididymal and accessory sex glands. Furthermore, there is some evidence linking DNA sperm fragmentation — which potentially occurs due to age — with fetal abnormalities and birth defects.
Due to the established link between age and male fertility, men are advised to consult with a sexual health or fertility specialist early on if you envision yourself having children when you’re over 40. One common solution to the problems of age-compromised fertility is sperm freezing, banking, or cryopreservation, which offers you the option of preserving young, healthy sperm for procreation later on. If you’re already over 40, you can opt for semen analysis before making any additional decisions about how to proceed with unassisted or assisted reproduction.
It’s important to remember that — while your fertility is vulnerable as you age — you do have options. Work with Fertility Center of California to protect your fertility now.