Older Men Have Fertility Problems Too

Armen Hareyan's picture
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It is already known that older women have lower chances for getting pregnant, but this new research suggests that men develop fertility problems with age, too.

A team of researchers from Eylau Centre for Assisted Reproduction in France examined 12,200 couples undergoing fertility treatment during the period between January 2002 and December 2006. These couples were undergoing intrauterine inseminations (IUI) treatment, which means that the sperm is being directly inserted into mother’s womb. This treatment is also called artificial insemination and is usually implemented when women doesn’t have any fertility problems.

All couples were checked for sperm quality, quantity, size and shape. Couples were followed during the entire process of fertility treatment and pregnancy to clearly define the rates of pregnancy, miscarriage, and birth.

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Researchers found that women over 35 had higher risk for miscarriage, which was already proved. Surprisingly, the rates were similar for men - sperm from men at their late 30s was less likely to result in healthy pregnancy than from younger men.

Men, older than 40, were successful in fertility treatment only in 10% of cases. One third of cases resulted in miscarriages. Researchers are not yet ready to clearly explain why age affects men fertility, but they suppose that sperm experiences DNA damage with age, resulting in fertility problems.

"We have known there was a paternal effect for a while but we didn't expect to find these kind of miscarriage rates," said Stephanie Belloc from Eylau Centre.

Older couples with unsuccessful experience of intrauterine inseminations are offered a more aggressive treatment - in vitro fertilization (IVF) - when egg and sperm are being fertilized in laboratory, and then inserted into women’s womb.

Researchers now aim at getting age message to all couples planning to have babies at their older ages. Not only mother’s age determine pregnancy and birth results, but father’s age also does.

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