Anyone who has spent more than a few minutes researching fertility issues knows that the mother’s age is a major factor. The older a woman is, the more likely she is to have problems conceiving. Women over 35 years old have a lower IVF success rate and their embryos have a higher rate of chromosomal and genetic problems. Doctors have long theorized that the age of the father might pose similar complications, but good research specifically looking at the impact of the age of the sperm has been scant.
Does the Sperm’s Age Increase the Risk of Genetic Problems?
A study presented at the ASRM conference last October is starting to unravel the impact of paternal age on the health of an embryo. The study, sponsored in part by RMA of New York (one of our wonderful sponsors), looked at the impact of the sperm’s age on the likelihood of aneuploidy, a condition caused by an embryo having an abnormal number of chromosomes. Researchers followed 819 couples undergoing 1108 IVF cycles and performed preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) on the resulting 4,658 embryos. The ages of both parents were carefully tracked, allowing the researchers to see the influence of mother and father’s age separately.
The rate of aneuploidy rose sharply with the mother’s age, but stayed fairly consistent regardless of the father’s age.
A Step in the Right Direction
While it’s important to remember that this study only looks at one potential problem, the results are heartening for older men still hoping to have children. Dr. Rebecca Sokol, the president of ASRM, remarked, “Older men, like older women, may face social barriers and health challenges when trying to start or build their families. While we do need more research on the subject, this study reassures us that the children of older fathers are as likely to be healthy as those born to younger fathers.”
Other Creating a Family resources you will enjoy:
- Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Male Fertility
- Male Fertility – Pretty Darn Miraculous
- How Can Men Prepare for IVF?
- Male Fertility & Infertility Treatment Safety