Fertility Blog

Do Men Need to Care About Their Age and Fertility as Women Do?

Both men and women can experience a decline in their fertility as they age. For men who want to conceive, timing can be just as important as it is for their female partners. Male sperm quality and sexual health can diminish over time. It’s a good idea for men who wish to build their families to pay attention to their fertility, both now and in the future.

How does age affect sperm quality?

As men age, their sperm can lose some of its concentration, motility, and volume. The sperm of men in their 40s and 50s is less potent than of those in their 20s and 30s. This means it can take longer for a fertile older man to conceive a baby than it does a younger man.

Some men opt for assisted reproduction if they’ve tried unsuccessfully to conceive for more than a year (less time if over age 40). Artificial insemination — also known as intrauterine insemination {IUI} — is one option that enables more sperm to reach the egg in utero and increases the chances of conception. This minimally invasive procedure is sometimes a first step on the fertility treatment path.

A second, more intensive treatment option is in vitro fertilization {IVF}, wherein a man’s sperm is harvested, cleaned, and then combined with a woman’s egg outside her body and is subsequently implanted in the uterus for gestation. Either procedure might help you overcome male factor infertility due to aging sperm.

For young men who believe they might want to conceive in the future, cryopreservation is sometimes an option. Young, healthy sperm can be banked through Washington Fertility Center and later accessed and used for procreation, when the time is right.

How does age affect male sexual function?

Once men hit 40 years old, they’re about 30% less likely to conceive after trying for a year. Aside from problems with sperm potency, some men experience decreased sexual desire or erectile dysfunction, associated with increased age.

Maintaining a healthy sex life is one way to support your fertility. This includes practicing safe sex to avoid sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), as well as monitoring the condition of your semen. Urological disorders and certain cancers can also affect male fertility, and the risk of acquiring adverse medical conditions increases as men age. If you suspect a medical problem, it’s important to consult your doctor right away. Annual checkups can also go a long way toward maintaining healthy sexual function.

The bottom line is that men do need to pay as much attention to age and fertility as women. Start a conversation with a fertility specialist if you’re concerned age might inhibit your fertility.