Evidence shows that increased male age is associated with a decline in semen volume, sperm motility, and sperm morphology. In studies that controlled for female age, comparisons between men under 30 and men over 50 found relative decreases in pregnancy rates between 23% and 38%.
Sperm count declines with age, with men aged 50–80 years producing sperm at an average rate of 75% compared with men aged 20–50 years. However, an even larger difference is seen in how many of the seminiferous tubules in the testes contain mature sperm;
- In males 20–39 years old, 90% of the seminiferous tubules contain mature sperm.
- In males 40–69 years old, 50% of the seminiferous tubules contain mature sperm.
- In males 80 years old and older, 10% of the seminiferous tubules contain mature sperm.
Decline in male fertility is influenced by many factors, including lifestyle, environment and psychological factors.
Research shows increased risks for health problems for children of older fathers. A large scale Israeli study found that the children of men 40 or older were 5.75 times more likely than children of men under 30 to have an autism spectrum disorder, controlling for year of birth, socioeconomic status, and maternal age. Increased paternal age has also been correlated to schizophrenia in numerous studies.
Australian researchers have found evidence to suggest overweight obesity may cause subtle damage to sperm and prevent a healthy pregnancy. They say fertilization was 40% less likely to succeed when the father was overweight.
The American Fertility Society recommends an age limit for sperm donors of 50 years or less, and many fertility clinics in the United Kingdom will not accept donations from men over 40 or 45 years of age.