Higher age = higher risk
The study found that men who are over the age of 45 experience a decline in fertility. Additionally, though many of these men can parent children, those children are at higher risk of premature birth, low birth weight, and some birth defects. And the men’s partners are at risk, too. Women who are pregnant by a male partner who is 45 or older have an increased risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and preterm birth.
Research has also found a correlation between the father’s age and the risk of developmental disorders such as autism and mental illnesses like schizophrenia. One study even found that the older the male partner is, the higher the risk of miscarriage. This was true even when the female partner was younger, healthy, and had no other risk factors.
Why does fertility decline?
Most of these outcomes link to the natural decline in testosterone that men experience with aging. As men get older, DHEA and estrogen both decrease while FSH and LH increase. This adds up to a decline in reproductive health, similar to what women experience. This decreasing fertility is also associated with sperm degradation and poorer sperm quality. Some researchers theorize that just as people lose muscular strength and endurance with age, so does sperm experience a natural loss of power.
What can I do?
While many women understand egg freezing and reproductive treatment options, men often don’t know what to do. But just like women can preserve fertility by freezing eggs, men can consider sperm banking. Ideally, men would save sperm before the 45th birthday to ensure that future children have a lower risk of health complications.
A range of treatment options
Fortunately, today’s technology offers a variety of options for couples who hope to get pregnant later in life. Couples can use frozen eggs or sperm to get pregnant with the help of assisted reproductive technology (ART). Two of the most common fertility treatments include in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intrauterine insemination (IUI).
It’s not too late
Couples who are struggling to get pregnant have a range of treatment options. Additionally, men who want to wait to have children later in life may consider sperm banking. For more information about infertility and treatment options, speak with a fertility specialist.