Can a 70 year old donate sperm?

As men get older, their fertility and sperm quality tend to decline. However, some men remain fertile well into their 70s and beyond. So can a 70 year old man still donate sperm? Let’s take a closer look at how age affects male fertility and the ability to donate sperm.

Quick Facts on Age and Male Fertility

  • Fertility starts to decline around age 35.
  • Sperm quality decreases with age, including sperm count, shape, and motility.
  • DNA damage in sperm increases with paternal age.
  • Some men remain fertile into their 70s, 80s, and beyond.
  • There is no strict cut-off age for sperm donation, but most sperm banks set limits around age 40.

So while fertility declines with age, men can still remain fertile into old age. However, sperm quality does also decrease, meaning older sperm is typically less optimal for getting a partner pregnant.

How does age affect male fertility?

Male fertility declines gradually as men get older. Here’s an overview of how age impacts male fertility and sperm health:

Sperm Count

Sperm count starts to decrease around age 35, dropping by up to 3% per year past this point. By age 70, sperm counts are typically 50-60% lower than in a man’s 20s.

Sperm Motility

Motility refers to the percentage of sperm that are able to “swim” properly. Motility declines with age, with the proportion of non-moving sperm increasing by up to 10% per year after age 50.

Sperm Morphology

Morphology refers to the size and shape of sperm. As men age, the percentage of abnormally shaped sperm increases, reaching up to 95% abnormal morphology in some elderly men.

DNA Damage

One of the biggest impacts of age is an increase in DNA damage within sperm. This damage includes mutations, fragmentation, and missing chromosomes. Sperm DNA damage is linked with decreased fertility.

So in summary – age decreases sperm count, quality, motility, morphology, and genetic integrity. But male fertility does not simply “turn off” at a certain age – it’s a gradual decline over many decades.

How old is too old to donate sperm?

Most sperm banks set age limits for sperm donors at around age 40, with some ranging between 38-45 years old. This cutoff is set because by age 40-45, male fertility has already declined substantially.

However, there are no hard and fast legal limits on the maximum age for sperm donation. Some sperm banks may allow older donors, especially if the donor has proven their fertility by siring a child later in life.

The age limit for sperm donation is intended to maximize the chance of conception and healthy offspring. But it does not mean men over 40 or 50 are completely infertile and cannot produce viable sperm. Conception is still possible utilizing older sperm samples, though it may take longer.

What are the potential risks of using older sperm?

Using sperm from older donors does carry some added risks and challenges:

Lower fertilization rates

Due to declining sperm count and motility, conception rates are lower when using sperm from older men above age 50. More cycles or higher sperm concentrations may be needed.

Increased miscarriage rates

Chromosomal abnormalities in older sperm are linked with higher miscarriage rates. In one study, miscarriage rate was 20% with a paternal age above 50 versus 10% with younger sperm donors.

Higher birth defect rates

The rate of birth defects and conditions like autism and schizophrenia increase with paternal age, likely linked to DNA damage in aging sperm.

Epigenetic changes

Sperm from older men have different patterns of epigenetic tags compared to younger men. These epigenetic changes may impact gene activation in offspring.

However, while risks increase with paternal age, most children born from older fathers still develop normally and remain healthy. Advanced screening methods can also help identify the highest quality sperm from an older donor.

What are the current guidelines for sperm donation age limits?

Most major medical organizations do not define strict limits for sperm donation by age. But general recommendations include:

  • American Society for Reproductive Medicine: Sperm donors should generally not exceed age 40.
  • British Fertility Society: Suggests upper age limit from 41-45 years.
  • Canadian standards: Recommends sperm donors under age 40.
  • UK National Gamete Donation Trust: Maximum age of 45 years for sperm donors.

So while 40-45 years is commonly cited as the upper limit for donors, most guidelines do not have definitive hard cutoffs. Older potential donors may still be screened and accepted on a case-by-case basis.

Are there any regulations against using sperm from older donors?

There are currently no laws or regulations prohibiting the use of sperm from older donors, including men over age 70. As long as the man can still produce sperm, there are no legal barriers against using advanced age sperm.

However, the ethics of using older sperm have been questioned. The increased risks to offspring are seen by some as grounds to set stricter age thresholds for donors. But others argue this represents age discrimination. They contend prospective parents should have the right to use willing donors of any age.

Most countries still take the former view, limiting donor ages. But the lack of definitive legal limits leaves the door open for those willing to use older sperm.

How can a 70 year old man have his sperm tested for donation suitability?

A man over 70 interested in donating sperm should undergo standard semen analysis and genetic testing to assess suitability, including:

Semen analysis

Also called a sperm count test, this provides information on:

  • Sperm concentration
  • Motility and morphology
  • Seminal fluid volume and pH

If semen quality is poor, sperm may still be usable but require specialized fertility treatment like IVF or ICSI.

Sperm DNA fragmentation analysis

This test identifies sperm with damaged DNA. High DNA damage can impair fertility and embryo development.

Genetic screening

Karyotype and genetic carrier screening ensures sperm are free of chromosomal issues or inherited conditions.

Fertility consultation

A fertility or andrology specialist can review test results, medical history, and advise on any risks related to age.

If screening is normal, sperm from a healthy 70+ year old can potentially still be suitable for donation. Recipients just need to be counselled on and accept the increased age-related risks.

What are some examples of men fathering children in their 60s, 70s, or 80s?

Though rare, there are certainly examples of elderly men successfully conceiving children long after standard retirement age:

  • In 2019, a 74-year old Indian man and his 46-year-old wife had a child using the man’s sperm and an egg donor.
  • Actor Anthony Quinn fathered several children in his 60s and 70s, having kids with three different partners between ages 64-81.
  • A Nigerian man named Nanjappa claimed he fathered a child at age 94 years old with a much younger wife.
  • In the 1990s, a British man named Les Colley had children at ages 62, 68 and an alleged child at 92.

These extreme examples demonstrate that while exceptional, conceiving children naturally at advanced ages is possible for some men. This offers proof that very elderly sperm donation, while risky, could still potentially lead to successful pregnancies.

What fertility treatments can assist with using sperm from older men?

Due to lower sperm count and motility, sperm from older donors often requires use of assisted reproductive technology (ART) to achieve pregnancy. Options include:


Intrauterine insemination (IUI) places sperm directly into the uterus using a catheter. This increases pregnancy rates compared to natural conception.


In vitro fertilization (IVF) combines egg and sperm in a lab. It has the highest success rates for aged sperm given the ability to select only the best sperm.


Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) involves direct sperm injection into each egg to promote fertilization. It is commonly used with poor quality sperm.

So while natural conception rates decline, sperm from elderly men can still potentially lead to successful pregnancy using IUI, IVF or ICSI.

What ethical concerns exist around using sperm from very old donors?

Some major ethical concerns regarding using sperm from elderly donors include:

  • Increased child health risks – As highlighted earlier, using very old sperm raises risks of congenital disabilities, miscarriage, and potentially shorter life expectancy of offspring.
  • Reduced longevity of fathers – Older sperm donors may not live long enough to see children reach adulthood and key life milestones.
  • Questionable motivations – Critics argue elderly men should not conceive new children they are unlikely to raise, but instead focus on spending time with existing family.
  • Resource inequity – Younger, healthier sperm are often discarded due to sperm bank limits. So is it ethical utilizing high-risk aged sperm when safer samples are available?

Proponents argue limiting elder donors is a form of age discrimination. But most medical organizations still encourage conservative upper age thresholds for donors due to ethical concerns.

Should sperm banks place stricter age limits on sperm donors?

Many experts argue sperm banks should enforce stricter age screening given the risks of using sperm from older men:

Arguments For Stricter Age Limits

  • Minimizes risks to offspring
  • Reduces likelihood of children losing a father prematurely
  • Aligns with existing guidelines recommending donor age under 40
  • Avoids impression of exploiting elderly donors solely for profit

Arguments Against Stricter Age Limits

  • Could be considered age discrimination
  • Infringes reproductive liberties
  • Prevents charitable donations from elderly, willing donors
  • Omits men capable of producing viable sperm into old age

There are good arguments on both sides of this debate. In the end, sperm banks must balance ethical obligations with parental freedoms and the rights of older potential donors.


While sperm quality declines with age, men can potentially remain fertile into extreme old age, even their 70s, 80s or beyond. Though exceptional, cases do exist of elderly men conceiving children, demonstrating it is biologically possible.

However, using sperm from very old donors carries substantial risks, including lower conception chances, miscarriage, and birth defects. This is why most sperm banks restrict donations to men under age 40-45.

Currently, there are no universal laws prohibiting donations from elderly men. But ethical concerns exist around offspring welfare and questionable motivations of aged donors. Stricter age limits could minimize risks, but may also represent age discrimination.

In the end, individuals must weigh up risks and benefits before proceeding with sperm donation or using sperm from very old men. For a 70+ year old, normal fertility screening provides insight on whether their sperm is still viable for donation. But all parties should have realistic expectations given higher risks of adverse outcomes.

While donating sperm in one’s 70s is allowed presently, large gaps exist between what is possible and what is prudent. Prospective parents and elderly donors alike must grapple with deep ethical questions before crossing this generational divide via sperm donation.

Leave a Comment