Advanced paternal age may affect fertility

Advanced paternal age may affect fertility

20/09/2017

Advanced paternal age may affect fertility

An increasing number of men are choosing to become fathers for the first or second time at a mature age. The reasons are many: on the one hand, the fact that women are delaying motherhood; on the other hand, marriage breakdowns and couple breakups, which give rise to new relationships culminating in the birth of one or more children. While many couples resort to assisted reproductive techniques, the decline in male fertility is little talked about.

However, studies show that the sperm of men approaching their sixties does not have the same fertility potential as that of their 25-year-old counterparts. Indeed, after the age of 45, a man's ability to fertilize an egg and achieve pregnancy through intercourse is diminished. Why does this happen? Ageing has long been known to affect the production of hormones and sperm, and although a lot more research is needed, available data and findings suggest that as with every other cell in our body, the ageing process can cause sperm abnormalities at the molecular level which affect its function. The risk of de novo genetic mutations (i.e., non-hereditary mutations) in the offspring also increases and has even been associated with the development of neurocognitive disorders.

This is an irreversible process which may be influenced by lifestyle and genetics, but only to a relative extent. This is why it is essential that men over the age of 45 who intend to conceive be examined by an andrology expert, as the risk of certain multifactorial birth defects is significantly increased when the father is over 50 years old. In fact, many miscarriages and problems in achieving pregnancy in older couples happen to be due to genetic abnormalities which hinder the development of the embryo, and the male factor is now known to have an impact in this regard.

 

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