Role of increased male age in IVF and egg donation Is sperm DNA fragmentation responsible

A review of potential risks to offspring as well as the impact on fertility of advancing male age and a discussion of mechanisms by which male age may impact sperm.

Kathryn C. Humm, M.D., Denny Sakkas, Ph.D.

Volume 99, Issue 1, Pages 30-36, January 2013


It has been well established that increasing maternal age leads to a higher risk of infertility, miscarriage, and chromosomal defects in offspring. The well documented increase in age, at which women conceive their first child, has detracted from a similar change observed in males. As both males and females decide to conceive later, the question of whether this may impact their fertility individually and as a couple becomes even more crucial. While paternal age of over 40 years at the time of conception is a frequently quoted male age threshold, currently there is no clearly accepted definition of advanced paternal age or even a consensus on the implications of advancing male age. In this paper, we review some of the potential risks to the offspring of advancing male age. We also review the data available regarding pregnancy outcomes based on paternal age in both the fertile and infertile populations. Within the infertile population specifically, we examine the association between male age and outcomes based on treatment modality, including intrauterine insemination (IUI), in vitro fertilization (IVF) and donor oocyte IVF. Finally, we discuss the various mechanisms by which male age may impact sperm and fertility potential, including sperm DNA damage.

  • NicoGarrido

    Dear Dr Humm,
    congratulations for your nice paper.

    In your work, you put into perspective the well known fact regarding the differential impact of male’s and female’s age on reproductive results.

    To me, it is important to remark that all the associations shown by several authors regarding the increased risk with age of presenting major alterations in the offspring must be interpreted with the due caution.

    All data show relative risks increase, but not absolute risk increase. The first are largely more worring than the others (not shown), although less informative.

    In resume, having a double risk of something with a very very very little risk, is still negligible, mainly thinking that, in order to avoid this risk increase, the only option is avoid paternity, and then the treatment causes more problems than the problem itself.

    Best regards

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