Women are constantly reminded of their body clock especially when they reach the age of 35. As for the men, age never seems to be an issue. But now researchers from Harvard have presented a study that age has an effect on a man's fertility. As BBC Newsstates in its report, "The findings contradict the idea that male fertility goes on forever."
Presented to the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, the study analyzed nearly 19,000 in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles. Researchers found that men aged 40 to 42 had a 46 percent lower chance of having a baby via IVF, compared to men aged 30 to 35, with female partners who were under 30. Women aged 35 had more success conceiving a baby with a male partner under 30 years old after just one IVF cycle, compared to a male partner already in his mid-30s.
The study does not change the fact that the age of the woman mainly impacts fertility than a man's age. But it does show that "it's not just down to the age of the women," Dr. Laura Lodge from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston, points out via a press release.
Dr. Dodge also noted that even in natural conception, the man's age is also "associated with a decreased incidence of pregnancy, increased time to pregnancy, and increased risk of miscarriage." Previous research has shown that older men produce less sperm and less mobile. Older men's sperm is also more prone to genetic errors, which have been linked to autism and schizophrenia in children.
The study by the Harvard researchers is not the first to calculate the incidence of having a baby that consider the ages of both male and female partners. In 2005, a French study found that women under age 30 were less likely to get pregnant if their partners were age 40 or older. Women age 35 to 37 with male partners over 40 years old are 50 percent less likely to conceive.
The latest one serves as a wake-up call to for men who think their biological clock is, well, forever especially when it comes to fertility treatments. "It is important and perhaps clinicians should start, when they are counselling couples, to take into account the age of the man as well," Raj Mathur, clinical lead for reproductive medicine at Manchester Fertility tells The Guardian.
Some studies peg the decline of male fertility after age 35, the same age as women. However, more studies are needed to be done, of course, to understand how a man's age affect conception, aside from sperm quality. Until then, "the best pre-conception advice we can offer is to maintain a healthy lifestyle," Dr. Dodge suggested.
It may not urge men to hurry up their journey to fatherhood, but it could encourage those who want to be fathers to get ahead of the game. (Ladies, remind your men that it takes two to tango if you plan on having kids in the future!) At the very least, they should keep their reproductive health in check.