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Man talking to friend outside

Question

Is it possible to become infertile over time?

Answer

Yes, it is possible to become infertile over time.

There is no specific stage of life when men become infertile (like menopause for women), but there is a gradual decline in male fertility as men get older. The decline is probably due to the effects of ageing and health problems that become more common with age.

We can see a decline in male fertility with age by looking at pregnancy rates for couples with male partners of different ages. It takes some fairly complicated statistical analysis because older males tend to have older female partners (and we know that affects pregnancy rates). A large study from the UK used a statistical analysis that adjusts for the effects of the mother’s age and other things known to affect pregnancy rates and showed that the chance of not getting pregnant within 12 months was twice as high for men over 40 years of age when compared to men under 25.

A couple that doesn’t get pregnant within 12 months of trying to conceive is considered to be infertile, so the risk of infertility is twice as high for men over 40 than it is for men under 25.

However, a doubling of the infertility rate might sound less scary if we look at it another way. In the UK study, 9 out of 10 couples with male partners younger than 25 did get pregnant within 12 months (a 10% infertility rate). Eight out of 10 couples with a male partner over 40 got pregnant within 12 months (a 20% infertility rate).

A diagnosis of infertility does not necessarily mean a couple can never have children. About half of the couples who don’t conceive after 12 months of trying will get pregnant (naturally, without medical assistance) in the following year, and about one in seven do so in the following year. So, technically, you can go from being infertile to being fertile, as well as being able to go from being fertile to infertile.

The best thing you can do to prevent infertility is to take care of yourself because lots of health problems and unhealthy behaviours are associated with infertility.
 

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