Study confirms that sperm quality declines with age

It has long been accepted that female fertility declines with age, but there has been conflicting evidence as to whether the same is true for male fertility. However, a new study conducted at the University of Otago in New Zealand provides what appears to be irrefutable evidence that male fertility also declines with age.

A research team lead by Dr. Sheri Johnson reviewed data from 90 previous studies that examined the relationship between male fertility (including semen quality, volume, and performance) and age. The study found there was a consistent age-related decline in semen volume and sperm performance, as well as increases in deformed and DNA-damaged sperm, with advanced male age. The researchers didn’t estimate the rate of decline, but previous studies have suggested slow but consistent declines after age 35 – 40. Co-author Professor Neil Gemmell says these data indicate that:

“Older males contribute to increased risk of obstetric complications, miscarriage, and offspring disorders such as autism, Down syndrome, epilepsy, and schizophrenia. In addition, increasing male age may be an overlooked component of couple infertility, leading to our increased use and dependency on fertility treatments, such as IVF.”

According to the authors, more research into the potential relationship between male age and fertility outcomes is sorely needed. Based on their findings, Johnston and Gemmell suggest that as more men and women are delaying childbearing, clinicians and the general public need to be aware of the risks related to the effects of advanced male age on fertility outcomes.

Read more about male fertility and age here. 

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