Background: Most studies assessing the outcome of assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) have reported live birth rates in couples by taking mainly the female factor into account. However, infertility is a couple's concern, and the majority of publications do not take into consideration the true impact of male infertility on having the desired number of children.
Methods: We carried out a follow-up study to evaluate the probability of having a child during treatments at the Toulouse Male Sterility Centre and after discontinuation from 2000 through 2008. Couples were followed for at least 4 years until discontinuation of treatment or delivery of a live infant.
Results: We were able to contact 65% of the 1735 male partners by telephone. Of the 1131 respondents, 56% had become parents (60% if adoption is included), 28% after ART, 16% by natural pregnancy, 8% after non-ART treatment and 4% after ART in another centre. The cumulative rates of success reached 64% [95% confidence interval (CI), 60-67] for men ≤35 years and women ≤35 years after 9 years, and 31% (95% CI, 24-39) in older patients. With optimistic analysis, which assumes that patients for whom no information was available have the same chance of success in having a child as those whose reproductive outcome was known, the cumulative rate of success was 48% (95% CI, 45-50) in the 1735 couples.
Conclusions: More than half of couples consulting for male infertility succeeded in having a child. Male age over 35 years old appears as a key risk factor as well as the woman's age, and these findings should encourage couples to attempt parenthood earlier.