A man’s age mat­ters

Age of men, not just women, af­fects IVF suc­cess, say ex­perts

New Straits Times - - Heal -

NEW re­search sug­gests that like women, a man’s age also has an ef­fect on the suc­cess of IVF treat­ment, de­spite the ap­pear­ance of male fer­til­ity as never-end­ing. Un­like women, men do not go through menopause or a pre­dictable and de­tectable de­cline in fer­til­ity. How­ever, a few pre­vi­ous stud­ies have found that a man’s age can af­fect nat­u­ral con­cep­tion, par­tic­u­larly in the ge­netic health of sperm cells.

A woman’s age is of­ten thought to be the dom­i­nant fac­tor in the suc­cess of both nat­u­ral and as­sisted con­cep­tion.

For the new re­search, car­ried out by Dr Laura Dodge from Beth Is­rael Dea­coness Med­i­cal Cen­tre and Har­vard Med­i­cal School, Boston, US, a to­tal of al­most 19,000 IVF cy­cles per­formed in 7,753 cou­ples at a large IVF clinic in Boston were an­a­lysed.

The fe­male part­ners in these cy­cles were placed into four dif­fer­ent age groups: un­der 30, 30-35 years, 35-40 years, and 40-42.

Men were also placed into these same groups, with an ad­di­tional group of 42 and over.

The team found that as ex­pected, the cu­mu­la­tive live birth rate —mea­sured from up to six cy­cles of treat­ment —was low­est in cou­ples where the fe­male part­ner was in the 40-42 age group.

In this group, the age of the male part­ner had no im­pact, show­ing that the age of the woman was in­deed more dom­i­nant.

How­ever, when look­ing at other fe­male age groups — un­der 30, 30-35 years, and 35-40 years — the team found that the cu­mu­la­tive in­ci­dence of live birth was sig­nif­i­cantly af­fected by male part­ner age, with the live birth rate de­clin­ing as the man grew older.

The re­sults showed that cou­ples with a fe­male part­ner aged un­der 30 and a male part­ner aged 40-42 had a sig­nif­i­cantly lower cu­mu­la­tive birth rate (46 per cent) than in cou­ples with a male part­ner aged 30-35 (73 per cent).

In cou­ples with a fe­male part­ner aged 35-40, live birth rates were also higher with a younger male part­ner — a male part­ner un­der age 30 re­sulted in 70 per cent in­ci­dence of live birth, com­pared to 54 per cent for women the same age whose part­ner is 30-35.

Dr Dodge also noted that a man’s age ap­pears to play a role in nat­u­ral con­cep­tion, with in­creas­ing male age associated with de­creased in­ci­dence of preg­nancy, in­creased time to preg­nancy, and in­creased risk of mis­car­riage.

Al­though it is un­sure why age has this ef­fect, some pos­si­ble ex­pla­na­tions in­clude in­creased DNA dam­age in sperm, and epi­ge­netic al­ter­ations in sperm that af­fect fer­til­i­sa­tion, im­plan­ta­tion or em­bryo devel­op­ment.

“How­ever, both the re­sults of this study and prior work show that fe­male age has a larger ef­fect on fer­til­ity than male age.

“When we looked at the ef­fect of fe­male age alone, we saw a 46 per cent rel­a­tive de­crease from ages un­der 30 to 40-42, but when we looked at male age alone, we saw a 20 per cent rel­a­tive de­crease over the same age span,” added Dr Dodge.

New re­search has found that the father’s age also plays a role in the suc­cess of IVF treat­ment.

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