It is a well-known fact that advanced maternal age can increase the chances of infertility or pregnancy related complications. A woman over 35 years of age may find it difficult to bear children. However, advanced maternal age i.e. age of the father can also be a big factor on a couple’s fertility. Advanced age of the male partner may negatively impact fertility, directly and indirectly, including longer time to conceive, decreased sperm quality, and increased risk for miscarriage and birth defects.
What is Advanced Paternal Age?
There is disagreement among experts about the age at which male sperm quality or motility sees a decline. However, most seem to agree that advanced paternal age may refer to male age over 40. After this point, males see a slow, gradual decline in their fertility.
Ways in which Paternal Age can affect Fertility
Several studies have shown that paternal age can cause a decline in fertility. This is mostly due to decrease in the quality and quantity of sperm. The findings of these studies have revealed that:
- Men over 45 took five times longer to achieve pregnancy as compared to men less than 25
- During intrauterine insemination (IUI), men less than 35 had double the success rate of men over 35
- A meta-analysis of male sperm found that increased paternal age was associated with decreased sperm count, decreased sperm motility, abnormal morphology, decreased semen volume and decreased sperm concentration. Sperm motility was also seen to suffer due to increased paternal age.
- Erectile dysfunction may also increase as the men age. This makes it more difficult for men to have intercourse and in turn, decrease the chances of pregnancy.
Paternal Age and Genetic Disorders
Just like the age of mother, advanced paternal age can significantly increase the risk of genetic disorders such as Down syndrome. As a man ages, his sperm may have undergone thousands of replications. Each replication carries a risk of mutation that could lead to an anomaly. It is believed that 5% of trisomy (Down syndrome) is caused due to paternal factors. If your family has a history of genetic disorders, meet your doctor to discuss genetic testing options.
Paternal Age and Autism
Some studies have shown the relationship between paternal age and autism. Decreased cognitive ability, schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorder are believed to be the outcomes of advanced paternal age. Here are some findings on the relationship between paternal age and autism spectrum disorder:
- In a study, when paternal age increased by 10 years, the risk of autism increased by 21%
- Another study found that children born to men over 40 years of age were at 3.3 times increased risk of developing autism as compared to those born to men under 30.
These findings clearly suggest that paternal age has direct effect on a man’s fertility as he gets into his 40s. It also increases the risk of genetic anomalies, cognitive disabilities and autism. So it is better for both men and as well women to understand the consequences and plan their pregnancy accordingly. Meet our experts at KIMS Cuddles to help plan out your pregnancy.
*Information shared here is for general purpose. Please take doctors’ advice before taking any decision.