A casual comment during an interview with ET Canada, revealed Robert De Niro recently became a new dad at 79 years old. You may wonder: Is this common? How is it possible? Dr. Jacob Khurgin, Director of Male Reproductive Health at GENESIS explains:
After puberty, men produce sperm every single day, hour, minute, and second. In fact, a healthy man makes about 1,500 sperm a second! With age, however, fertility does decline in men. Starting at 35-40 years old there is a general decline in men’s fertility potential, although it is a much more gradual process than with women. There is also evidence that older fathers are more likely to have children with certain conditions (such as autism, or schizophrenia), although the risk is still low.
In today’s world, even a low sperm count is something that can be overcome with modern medicine, including the use of ART (assisted reproductive technologies) such as IVF (in vitro fertilization). We don’t know the details of Mr. De Niro’s situation. But in the 1960s – before IVF was available – the famous actor Charlie Chaplin was in his 70s when he became a new father. Now THAT was impressive!
Robert De Niro and his partner Tiffany Chen welcomed Gia Virginia Chen-De Niro in early April — and now, she’s making her national TV debut on #CBSMornings. https://t.co/OJJxGcEKlU pic.twitter.com/opiFRpWkRs
— CBS Mornings (@CBSMornings) May 11, 2023
Testing for Male Infertility
Did you know about 40% of the time a couple’s difficulty to conceive can be caused by male factor infertility? This usually comes as a surprise to the couple; especially if the male has previously fathered children. During an infertility work-up, both partners should be thoroughly evaluated. Once the results from the tests are in, a treatment plan can be determined.
For his part, the male partner will be asked to complete a semen analysis. Semen is the ejaculate that is released when a man has an orgasm. It is made up of sperm and fluid. This test can let the doctor know:
- How much semen a man produces (volume).
- The total number of sperm in the semen sample (total count).
- The number of sperm in each milliliter of semen (concentration).
- The percentage of sperm that are moving (motility).
- It can also suggest if you have an infection in your reproductive system.
A consultation with a male infertility specialist is a great first step to take. Often the problem is correctable. Simple changes could include diet, exercise, correcting a hormone issue or treating an infection. Sometimes the issue requires a “same-day” surgical procedure. But even in more complex cases, science can help patients become fathers.
Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)
ICSI is a treatment where a single sperm is injected directly into an egg during an IVF cycle. ICSI may be recommended if there is a problem with low sperm count, abnormally shaped sperm, or decreased movement or motility.
Read: About ICSI
Donor sperm may be chosen if the males’ sperm count is low, or absent altogether. Patients can choose either a known donor or use a commercial sperm bank. All sources of donor sperm are screened for genetic and infectious diseases to eliminate the risk of passing an identifiable illness.