[Social freezing - the male perspective]

J Gromoll, F Tüttelmann, S Kliesch
Der Urologe. Ausg. A 2016, 55 (1): 58-62

BACKGROUND: In Germany there is an emerging trend for postponing parenthood due to non-medical, sociocultural reasons. This clearly impacts on the reproductive success due to an age-dependent decrease in fertility. Thus, strategies and techniques are currently discussed which could preserve the female fertility status, among which social freezing (cryopreservation of oocytes) for later fertilization is the most realistic one; however, while there is an intensive discussion on the procedure and timing of oocyte cryopreservation, virtually no attention has been paid to the male side and the aging effects on the male germ cells.

AIM: To evaluate the risk paternal age poses for the integrity of germ cells.

METHODS: For this review a literature search using PubMed, data from the Federal Statistical Office of Germany, the German in vitro fertilization (IVF) register as well as own data were used.

RESULTS: Sperm cell integrity is clearly affected by age both at the genetic as well as at the epigenetic levels. The estimated mutation rate for spermatozoa doubles every 16.5 years. Monogenic and multifactorial diseases are strongly associated with paternal age. Men aged >40 years have an increased risk of passing age-related mutations to their children.

CONCLUSIONS: Cryopreservation of spermatozoa is an option for men who postpone planning a family. Genetic counseling is recommended for couples undertaking social freezing and a male age of >40 years.

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