A new study by British scientists showed that men just like women also have to worry about biological clock: their fertility plummets at the age of 51, when they hit a male version of the menopause. Previous warnings about fertility and giving birth at young age were addressed to women, but experts now say that men should also be told not to wait too long with starting a family.

The researchers analyzed around 5,000 IVF cycles performed at one London fertility clinic and came to conclusion that men aged 51 and older were less likely to conceive a baby even with a young partner. Almost 50 per cent of men aged 35 and under achieved pregnancy. The pregnancy rate in partners of men aged 46 to 50 fell to 32.8 per cent and hit just 30.5 per cent for men aged 51. For a woman aged 36 years, the scientists calculated an average success rate of 45% if her partner was under 35 compared with a 35% success rate if he was over 51.

The further analysis revealed that it is due to the law sperm quality standards. Just 42% of those over 51 had sperm count and sperm motility measures within the healthy range defined by the World Health Organization, compared with 61% of those in younger age brackets. The DNA of the cells is also affected with age and babies from old fathers are more likely to have genes-related diseases. And yet there is currently no age limit for IVF in men, although health watchdog NICE advises 42 as the cut-off for women having fertility treatment on the NHS.

The results of this study were presented at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology’s annual meeting. Guy Morris, the prime researcher, said that stories of celebrity men fathering children into their 60s had helped perpetuate a myth that male fertility lasts for ever: “There may well be a public perception that male fertility is independent of age. Indeed, in natural conception and pregnancy it is only recently that evidence of risks associated with later fatherhood has become available,” said Morris.

 

Photo: Getty Images
Source: European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology

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