A new study led by Harvard Medical School revealed that women who conceived with men younger than them had a higher chance of getting pregnant than with men of the same age or older. It said that younger men’s sperms had a higher chance to fertilise older women as it “invigorated” eggs from older women, who were less likely to conceive when paired with those their own age.

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Presented at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) in Geneva, Switzerland, the results concluded that while age played a significant role in live birth rates, the age of the men played a part for younger women and fertility.

The study’s findings were:

Women aged 35 to 40 had significant benefits from having a male partner under the age of 30.

There was a 30 per cent relative improvement in the cumulative incidence of live birth, compared with those paired with partners the same age.

The women with younger lovers had success rates of 70 per cent, compared to 54 per cent when partners were in the same age bracket.

The effect lessened as women got older, and for those over 40 the age of the male partner made no difference to the chances of success.

 This information is helpful to older women who are looking forward to starting their own family through IVF, or other fertility options. Dr Neelima Upadhyay, a gynaecologist said, “there is a slight increase in single moms going for IVF to start their own family. And over the past years, I have seen women having a higher chance with the sperms from younger men. It is a safer bet as compared to older women. Like any biological process that slows down with age, sexual activity too has a peak time. And unlike the myth that men’s reproductive capacity and age is not related, age plays a huge factor in determining factors like the expectant mother’s health, the child’s brain functions and the chance of having a successful delivery.”

Younger men tend to have a higher sperm count and a lower rate of conceiving a child who could have autism or schizophrenia. Apart from this, IVF is proven to be more successful with women who have a younger partner.

But that does not negate the fact that men have little or no chance of conceiving at an older age. While Robert De Niro and Picasso fathered a child at 68, Charlie Chaplin became a father at the age of 73.

The Telegraph recorded, Lead researcher Dr Laura Dodge’s statement that “Most preconception advice for men focuses on semen quality, though studies suggest that this likely cannot fully ameliorate the effects of male reproductive ageing. So in the absence of clear evidence of the mechanisms, the best preconception advice we can offer is to maintain a healthy lifestyle.”

The figures about men, age and fertility, according to YourFertility, are as follows:

For couples having IVF, the risk of not having a baby is more than five times higher if the male partner is aged 41 or older.

The risk of miscarriage is twice as high for women whose male partner is aged over 45 than for those whose partners are under 25.

Children with fathers aged 40 or older are more than five times as likely to have an autism spectrum disorder than children fathered by men aged under 30.

According to a paper published by Isiah D Harris, the age of the male partner has a significant impact on reproduction. There is an age-related increase in acquired medical conditions, decrease in semen quality, and increasing rates of DNA fragmentation seen in sperm. “After six cycles, men aged ≥ 35 years had fertility rates of 25% compared with fertility rates of 52% in men aged < 35 years, representing a 52% decrease in fertility rate,” it recorded.

Because of changes in eggs and sperm that occur as we age, children of older parents have a slightly higher risk of birth defects, chromosomal abnormalities and autism spectrum disorder. However, it is important to remember, that although the risk increases, most babies are born healthy, irrespective of their parents’ age.

Picture Credit: Image Thirst

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Jagriti is an intern with SheThePeople.TV