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Biological clock spotlight now on men

Publishing Date : 10 July, 2017


Men, if you are among some who’ve been holding off on having kids until later, it is perhaps time you reconsider that decision because you too have a biological clock-and it is ticking!

For time immemorial, women have been the only ones concerned with racing time in order to reproduce but according to a new study, the spotlight is on men. Results from a Harvard University study presented this Tuesday at the third annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Geneva, Switzerland suggests that male fertility declines with age.

The study conducted by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre and Harvard Medical School; Boston, USA, shows quite clearly that live birth outcome is clearly affected by the age of the male partner and that in certain younger female age groups, where the effect of age is less potent, the chances of live birth can be appreciably reduced by the man's increasing age.

Researchers looked at 19 000 cycles in 7 753 couples over a four-year period, from 2010 to 2014, in Boston. The female partners in these cycles were stratified according to four age bands: under 30, 30-35 years, 35-40 years, and 40-42. Men were stratified into these same four age bands, with an additional band of 42 and over.

“In couples with a female partner aged under 30, a male partner aged 40-42 was associated with a significantly lower cumulative birth rate (46%) than a male partner aged 30-35 (73%). Similarly, in couples with a female partner aged 35-40 years, live birth rates were higher with a younger partner than with an older male partner,” the researchers found.

Dr Laura Dodge from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre and Harvard Medical School, who presented the study at the 33rd Annual Meeting of ESHRE explained, “Generally, we saw no significant decline in cumulative live birth when women had a male partner the same age or younger. However, women aged 35-40 did significantly benefit from having a male partner who is under age 30, in that they see a nearly 30% relative improvement in cumulative incidence of live birth when compared to women whose partner is 30-35 - from 54% to 70%.”

The study is among a handful which zero in on a man’s age and its effect on conception. Infertility is a global problem. A study conducted in 2015 has found that 48,5 million couples around the world experience infertility and men contribute to an estimated 20%-30% of issues. One of the reasons for decreased fertility as men get older is genetic damage to sperm.

In women, it has been widely known that their fertility takes a knock by around age 36. After age 40, 97 per cent of the eggs in a woman’s ovaries are gone and the remaining eggs may not be as healthy, leaving her at risk of miscarriages or genetic abnormalities in her baby. Across the board though, a woman’s age still has a “larger effect” on fertility while a man’s age is “subtle.”



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