Every woman knows that one day, she will enter menopause and her most fertile years will be behind her. But is there such a thing as male menopause?
While men don’t go into actual menopause and stop producing sperm, like women stop producing eggs later in life, research does show that a man’s fertility can decline as he ages. But with help from a fertility specialist, men with fertility issues can access advanced male fertility testing and reproductive technology that make it possible to father children, even very late in life.
What is male menopause?
Researchers believe age-related fertility decline in men is related to changes in normal sperm structure, movement and volume. Additionally, aging and stress can cause the DNA in sperm to fragment, which can cause issues with embryo development. Older men are also more likely to have issues with erectile dysfunction and to experience a decline in sexual activity.
Studies have shown that the male menopause phenomenon means that it is often more difficult for older men to get their partners pregnant, with or without the help of a reproductive endocrinologist.
- A new study, published in July 2017, found that live birth rates from IVF are affected by the age of the male partner, declining as men grow older.
- A man’s age also plays an important role in the success of an IUI cycle, according to one 1995 study, which suggested that male fertility declines by more than 50% after age 35.
- Conception is 30% less likely when a man is older than 40, compared to a man who is younger than 30, according to a different study conducted in 2000.
- An older study from 1976 revealed that it takes five times longer for a man 45 or older to get his partner pregnant, compared with men less than 25 years old.
Learn more about male fertility
If you’re curious about whether aging has affected your male partner’s fertility, there’s an easy way to find out. A semen analysis is a simple test that gives you a full report detailing his sperm health, including whether there are enough sperm present to achieve natural pregnancy, whether they are shaped correctly to penetrate an egg and whether they are able to swim where they need to go. Genetic testing is also available to assess whether sperm have normal or fragmented DNA.