Paternal Age’s Impact on Male Fertility

When it comes to fertility, the belief that a woman’s age is all that matters, when a couple tries to conceive, may be wrong. Men also have a biological clock according to a study. So this is a study that is come out of Colorado and it is actually an animal study, still looking at a mouse model which is a pretty good model for the human biology. And what they looked at was they took the male mice that were their mid-life stage, so that is about equivalent to 45 to 50 years of age in humans in men; and they looked at these 13 mice and only one of them was able to actually achieve a pregnancy with their female counterpart. So the question has arisen again “is a man’s age is important for couple’s fertility as a woman’s age is?”.

Of course, an animal studies are not perfect; we need more translational research that is done in the human model to give us a better understanding. However, there are a lot of studies actually out there about what we call “advanced paternal age”, when the man’s ages considered a bit higher for achieving a pregnancy and what the effects may be.

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The issue is that the jury still kind of out. So we are not quite sure yet because the data is not that robust, and there is a lot of contradictions in the data. There some studies that say “yeah, we certainly see parameters going down as men age and fertility getting worse as men age.” And then there are other studies that show there might be some diminishment in numbers, but it isn’t every significant effect on that couple’s ability to conceive. So we are not quite sure yet.

First of all, overall just societally we are seeing the couples are waiting longer to have children that they used in the past for all sorts of reasons. So we see couples that are considered in the more advanced age category all the time, on both sides. I think the key of studies like these are the reminders that fertility is not just a women’s issue. This is the one thing in medicine that takes two people to be successful at getting the outcome that we want. So really the focus needs to be on couples. We see that 20% of couples, that we consider subfertile, having some trouble conceiving, have solely a male factor reason that the couple is having difficulty. There is an additional 40% where there is male factor plus female factor. So 60% of the time there is male factor involvement when a couple is having difficulty conceiving. And traditionally and unfortunately still a lot of places we tend to ignore the guys and just focus on the women, where we can be getting better results and perhaps offering more options if we are evaluating both sides of the couple.