Age also has an impact on male infertility, though the result is not as severe as it is in women. As men age, the number of sperm, the motility of sperm and the percent of normal sperm all decrease slightly. Pregnancy and birth rates decline and miscarriage rates increase when the male partner is older than age 50 (fig. 9). Despite the fact that some men can become fathers up to age 80 or older, couples should consider the effects of aging on both partners when making parenting plans and decisions.
While there have been many important advances in our ability to treat infertility, the reality is that a woman’s chances of achieving a pregnancy that results in a live birth will decline with age. In addition, there is a great deal of variability in the time that individual women experience this inevitable decline in fertility. For this reason, the evaluation of ovarian reserve is important for all women who have difficulty conceiving. Some treatments can help women to improve their chances of success, but no treatment can stop or reverse the aging process. While oocyte donation is often an effective option, a woman will have her best chances of success when fertility problems are discovered and treated as early as possible.
Any couple that has tried to conceive a baby for a year without success should consult a physician. If a woman is over age 35, she and her partner should consult a fertility expert after trying to conceive for six months. You might begin by discussing your concerns with your gynecologist.
fig. 9: Frattarelli, JL, et al. Fertil Steril in submission, 2007
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