'Age is no barrier' to sperm donation
Sperm donors up to the age of 45 are just as likely to conceive children as those in their 20s, a large study has shown.
The findings dispel the myth that a woman's chances of IVF success are lowered if she relies on sperm from an older man.
By encouraging more men to become donors, they could help alleviate the sperm shortage faced by fertility clinics.
But researchers warned that older men should not assume they are also as fertile as their younger peers. This is because all men who get through the screening process have high quality sperm.
Dr Navdeep Ghuman, from Newcastle Fertility Centre, who took part in the study of more than 230,000 donation treatments, said: "What's reassuring is that there's no decline observed with increasing age of the men.
"We wanted to answer the question, does the age of a sperm donor matter? The short answer is no, it doesn't."
Using data stored by the fertility regulator, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, researchers analysed the success of donations from men aged 20 and under to 45.
They found that live birth rate fell with the increasing age of women, dropping from 29pc for those aged 18 to 34 to just 14pc for the over-37 age group.
But within these groups, the age of the sperm donor had no impact. In fact, a slightly greater proportion of sperm donors aged 41 to 45 fathered children than those in their 20s.
Even though age may not reduce an older donor's chances of conceiving, a question mark remains over the potential risk of birth defects in his children.
There is evidence that children of older fathers are more likely to suffer from disorders such as autism and schizophrenia, or growth abnormalities.