Seminal characteristics and sexual behavior in men of different age groups: is there an aging effect?

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Abstract

Aim

To assess the seminal characteristics as well as the sexual behavior of men of various age groups to establish the presence of an aging effect on those characteristics.

Methods

Semen samples were collected from men (n = 792) undergoing in vitro fertilization or intrauterine insemination in cases of female factor infertility only. Samples were collected using a seminal collection device at intercourse and evaluated manually according to World Health Organization (WHO) standards. Men were divided into four groups according to their ages: (i) 20–30, (ii) 31–40, (iii) 41–50 and (iv) 51–60 years, and their seminal characteristics and responses to a sexual behavior questionnaire were compared.

Results

The data showed statistically significant differences in the seminal characteristics tested, most notably in the sperm concentration, motility, grade of motility, hypo-osmotic swelling and normal sperm morphology. Furthermore, the decline in normal sperm morphology with age was more pronounced when using strict criteria rather than WHO standards. There were also differences in total sperm count, total motile sperm and total functional sperm fraction (assessed by both WHO and strict criteria). Significant differences were also observed in the sexual behavior patterns in older men in terms of the number of years they have been trying to conceive, sexual frequency and sexual satisfaction.

Conclusion

The data clearly illustrate an aging effect on semen characteristics and sexual behavior in men as they age. It is suggested that the aging effect be taken into consideration when proposing normal standard values for semen characteristics in routine semen analysis as outlined by WHO standards.

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