December 3, 2010
While age is key in a woman's odds of conceiving, whether naturally or via assisted reproduction, there is no consistent evidence that a man's age affects the chances of success with infertility treatment, a new research review finds.
In an analysis of 10 studies mostly conducted in the past decade, Israeli researchers found that most of the studies showed no clear relationship between men's age and couples' odds of success with in-vitro fertilization (IVF) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
Both IVF and ICSI involve joining a woman's egg and a man's sperm in a lab dish, then—if fertilization is successful— transferring one or more embryos to the woman's uterus. ICSI is typically used for male fertility problems, including a low sperm count or poor sperm quality. It involves isolating a single sperm and injecting it directly into the egg.
It's known that women's fertility declines after age 35, and drops sharply after about age 40. And the odds of having a baby through assisted reproduction show a similar decrease.
Men are capable of fathering a child even into their golden years. However, studies have indicated that they do have a biological clock of sorts. Sperm quality, research suggests, may decline after age 40, and so too may the chances of having a baby; one study, for example, found that when the man was older than 40, a couple's risk of miscarriage was higher compared with couples in which the man was younger.
However, only a handful of studies have looked at the relationship between men's age and fertility-treatment outcomes.
For the new review, reported in the journal Fertility and Sterility, Dr. Lena Dain and colleagues at Carmel Medical Center in Haifa, Israel, pulled together 10 international studies that have looked at the question. Each involved anywhere from about 200 to 2,000 couples who underwent fertility treatment.
Overall, the researchers found, most of the studies failed to find an association between men's age and sperm quality, the odds of couples' conceiving or the chances of ultimately having a baby.
Read more here.
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