Generally, when people think about body-clocks, fertility and ageing, they usually associate it with women. While age does affect women more drastically when it comes to fertility, despite the fact that rock stars seem to be able to continue fathering children well into their seventies, age is also a factor for men when it comes to fertility as they also have biological clocks.
When it comes to fertility in men, lifestyle choices are often the most talked about as factors which affect it. Men are advised to quit smoking, cut down their alcohol intake, to eat healthily and to exercise more to increase their sperm count and sperm health. However, when it comes to age, there isn’t much that can be done to reverse the effects it can have on fertility, but that doesn’t mean that it is all bad news.
According to a study by Soroka University, semen quantity peaks between the ages of 30 and 35 and overall semen quantity was found to be lowest after age 55. Sperm motility, which is how well the sperm swim was best before age 25 and lowest after age 55 and when comparing the number of “good swimming” sperm in men between the ages of 30 to 35 with men over age 55, sperm motility decreased by 54 per cent.
Age is not necessarily the most critical factor when it comes to male fertility decline, but it can have an impact on other things such as the health of the pregnancy and the child. There’s evidence that suggests that the chance of miscarriage increases with paternal age and this is potentially due to genetic abnormalities in the sperm.
A study by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and the University of California at Berkeley looked at the genetic quality of male sperm and how age can increase the genetic defects, which include decreased fertility, increased chance of miscarriage, increased risk of stillbirth and increased risk of some birth defects in the sperm. This means that older men are not only at risk for infertility, but they are also more likely to pass on genetic problems to their children.
Take, for example, the risk of Down syndrome. In women, the risk of having a child with Down syndrome increases with age. Still, researchers found that when a woman was age 35 or older, a man’s age mattered more when it comes to this and if the woman was age 40 or older, 50 per cent of the children with Down syndrome that were studied, received that genetic defect from their paternal side.
It is not only the risk of Down syndrome that increases with paternal age either; autism, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, achondroplasia, a kind of dwarfism, childhood leukaemia are all also risks which should be considered.
Of course, it’s essential to consider male and female age together as this makes a difference too and according to research, in women age 35 to 39, if the man was five or more years older than them, then their pregnancy success odds were cut almost in half from 29 per cent to 15 percent.
Just like with women though, there are treatments which can help. Research has found that using intracytoplasmic sperm injection technology (ICSI) may be able to overcome any age-related disadvantages.
Research has found that while sperm counts, concentration, and sperm motility do decrease with age when it comes to pregnancy and birth—the numbers were good. Advanced paternal age does not hurt success rates.
A man’s age does matter. While men may not have a complete drop off in fertility like women do and Male fertility declines at a much slower rate than female fertility, with the effects felt later in life. It does decline throughout adulthood. Unlike a woman who reaches menopause when she runs out of eggs, men experience male fertility decline, but don’t become infertile as a result of age and just like those ageing rock stars, It is possible, for men of any age to father a biological child. However, it is still essential to know that “advanced paternal age” is something couples should be aware of. Both men and women must contend with their biological clocks.
If you are struggling with fertility or you are worried about your age and concerned that this might affect your chances of having a child then search for fertility clinics in the UK so that you can find an expert to talk to and have any tests that you might need.