By Dr Ashish Das, Medical Director at City Fertility Centre Brisbane
While women have often been the focus of infertility concerns, a recent study has found that a man’s age can also have a significant influence on the chances of falling pregnant.
Men, unlike women, do not have a menopause or a predictable and detectable decline in their fertility. While female age is still considered the dominant factor in predicting (or explaining) a couples chance of conception, whether natural or assisted, this latest research is showing that a male’s age also plays a role in achieving a successful pregnancy.
The study of IVF treatment cycles from the USA found a decline in success rates with increasing male partner age.
Investigator, Dr Laura Dodge from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre and Harvard Medical School, Boston, presented the study’s results this month at the annual meeting of the European Society of Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) in Switzerland.
The study analysed all IVF cycles performed at a large IVF centre in the Boston region between 2000 and 2014, a total of 19,000 cycles performed in 7753 couples.
The study found that if the female partner was already 40-42 years old, the age of the male partner had no impact on success. However, if the female was younger, the cumulative incidence of birth (measured from up to six cycles of treatment) was significantly affected by male partner’s age and was found to decline as the man grew older.
For example, in couples with a female partner aged under 30, a male partner aged 40-42 was associated with a significantly lower cumulative birth rate (46%) than a male partner aged 30-35 (73%). Similarly, in couples with a female partner aged 35-40 years live birth rates were higher with a younger than with an older male partner.
Dr Dodge noted that even in natural conceptions increasing male age is associated with a decreased incidence of pregnancy, increased time to pregnancy, and increased risk of miscarriage. The mechanisms, she added, are unclear but may include impaired semen parameters, increased sperm DNA damage, and epigenetic alterations in sperm that affect fertilisation, implantation, or embryo development.
Dr Dodge said however, in the absence of clear evidence of the mechanisms involved in what affects sperm quality, the best pre-conception advice is to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
It is important to note that while the study’s findings have been presented at ESHRE they are yet to be peer-reviewed by other scientists and we should bear this in mind when considering the findings.
Tips to Boost Sperm Health
At City Fertility Centre we understand that you can’t always plan the exact age of when you would like to start trying to fall pregnant; however, we do recommend these tips to boost sperm health when you are trying to conceive:
- Quit smoking
- Restrict alcohol
- Limit caffeine
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Eat a balanced diet
- Exercise moderately
- Keep cool as overheating of testes can affect sperm quality
- Take vitamin supplements
- Eliminate recreational drugs
- Keep sperm from becoming sluggish by ejaculating every two days when partner is ovulating
- Reduce stress
- Avoid exposure to environmental toxins.
Making the right choices about your health in the lead up to conception will help towards giving you a better chance of conceiving and of quality DNA is being passed on for generations to come.
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