Male Biological Clock is Ticking, Too
Older Age Affects Male Fertility, Especially After Age 45
WebMD News Archive
Sexual Function Isn't Everything
Peter Schlegel, MD, acting chairman of the department of
urology at Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City, says there have been
a lot of bits and pieces of information on male age and fertility, but
"this is the most definitive study to look at the issue and sort out the
"From a couple's or individual's standpoint, assuming that
a man's fertility will continue because his sexual function does is not
something you should do, it's an incorrect assumption," Schlegel tells
Experts say age gradually begins to take its toll on sperm
starting at about age 30, and a more abrupt decline in male fertility starts at
"The quality of sperm is not as good as men get older,
which is associated with fertility and genetic problems," says Harry Fisch,
MD, director of the Male Reproductive Center at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical
Center, also in New York City.
The age-related decline in the quality of sperm is also more
severe in men with conditions that affect sperm production or the ability of
the testes to cool, such as an undescended testicle.
A New Look at Infertility
Fisch says the results of this study should encourage doctors
to take a more serious look at male age when dealing with infertility
"It takes the onus off the woman, it's not just a woman's
problem," Fisch tells WebMD. "There is a male biological clock, and
that clock affects fertility."
"It's no longer maternal and paternal age, it's parental
age that needs to be considered," he says.
Because the study only looked at couples that achieved
pregnancy, researchers say the findings may actually underestimate the effect
of male age on infertility, and future studies should also include couples that
were unsuccessful in their conception attempts.
But researcher Killick says the findings should be a cause of
reassurance, not worry for couples trying to conceive.
"It gives us a greater understanding of the fertility
process, and the more we know about natural conception, the more we can
intervene when something goes wrong," Killick tells WebMD.