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Advanced Paternal Age and It's Impact on Fertility

It is common knowledge that women’s fertility is impacted by age, with a gradual decline beginning in the early 30s and a more rapid decline following age 37. There have been countless studies and a lot of information to back up this information, but what about fertility decline due to advanced paternal age?

While it’s not often discussed, advanced paternal age impacts fertility for men. We want to bring more awareness to this topic as it’s important for men to know that their age is also an essential factor in the fertility journey.

While there are various ways a man’s fertility can be impacted, from injury to medical issues or environmental factors, age is now being addressed as an essential factor as well.

Advanced Paternal Age and Fertility

Decreases in semen volume and sperm count, motility, and morphology are all associated with advanced paternal age. Viability also decreases with advanced paternal age. The exact connection between age and fertility decline for men is unknown, but the most common theory is that the decreased function of the reproductive glands is the main cause of these decreases.

It has been noted that reproductive gland secretions are decreased in older men, and the breakdown of water and protein is different than in younger men, potentially leading to issues with sperm motility. 

In terms of semen volume, studies have shown a decline ranging from age 35 to 50, so there is evidence of decline, but the question is, at what age do we truly start to see the decline? One study found a 0.22 mL decrease every five years for men.

Recent studies have also found a significant decline in sperm count at around age 41 and the decrease in motility is nearly double for men over age 50 as it is for men between ages 40-50.

What Does This All Mean for Men?

Women are not the only ones waiting longer to start a family. Over the past two decades, the average age of men having children has increased by 3.5 years, so it’s important to be aware of the impact of advanced paternal age on men’s fertility. 

It’s also important to remember that while age isn’t the only contributing factor, there is more risk for injury and medical issues as a man ages, so a mixture of reasons can lead to a decrease in male fertility. Nearly 1 in 3 infertility cases are due to male factor fertility issues, and another 1 in 3 cases can be due to both male and female fertility issues, so this is also a good reminder that infertility is not just a “woman’s issue,” but an issue for men as well.

What You Can Do Today

Men who want to learn more about their fertility can visit a reproductive endocrinologist or a urologist. Even if you are not ready to start building your family now, it’s never too early to get an evaluation of your fertility potential. 

A specialized doctor can help determine potential risk factors that a man has that could decrease their chances of having children. In addition to determining some risk factors, a semen analysis is often requested. This non-invasive test allows for a better visual of what is going on in terms of sperm quality and quantity. 

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