Effects of aging on the male reproductive system

J Assist Reprod Genet. 2016 Apr;33(4):441-54. doi: 10.1007/s10815-016-0663-y. Epub 2016 Feb 11.


The study aims to discuss the effects of aging on the male reproductive system. A systematic review was performed using PubMed from 1980 to 2014. Aging is a natural process comprising of irreversible changes due to a myriad of endogenous and environmental factors at the level of all organs and systems. In modern life, as more couples choose to postpone having a child due to various socioeconomic reasons, research for understanding the effects of aging on the reproductive system has gained an increased importance. Paternal aging also causes genetic and epigenetic changes in spermatozoa, which impair male reproductive functions through their adverse effects on sperm quality and count as, well as, on sexual organs and the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis. Hormone production, spermatogenesis, and testes undergo changes as a man ages. These small changes lead to decrease in both the quality and quantity of spermatozoa. The offspring of older fathers show high prevalence of genetic abnormalities, childhood cancers, and several neuropsychiatric disorders. In addition, the latest advances in assisted reproductive techniques give older men a chance to have a child even with poor semen parameters. Further studies should investigate the onset of gonadal senesce and its effects on aging men.

Keywords: Aging; Gonads; Hormone; Oxidative stress; Telomeres.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / pathology*
  • Aging / physiology
  • Cellular Senescence / physiology
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Gonads / pathology
  • Gonads / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Reproduction*
  • Reproductive Techniques, Assisted*
  • Spermatogenesis
  • Spermatozoa / pathology
  • Spermatozoa / physiology
  • Testis / physiopathology*