The biggest misconception about male fertility is that men age and nothing changes. Many men feel that no matter what they do with their body and their lifestyle everything will remain the same. However this is not true, and men’s fertility does in fact decline with age.
A study, published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, interviewed 2000 women to discover how long it took them to conceive. Among the participants who were aged 35 and over, those with male partners aged 45 or older took five times longer to conceive than those with partners aged 25 and younger.
This piece of research also looked at the time taken to conceive when the woman was 25 or under, and the man was 45 or over. They found a fourfold increase in the time it took for couples to conceive, which means that the man’s age was definitely a factor in the couple’s fertility problems.
Men’s versus women’s biological clocks: differences
Men and women have distinctly different biological clocks. Women have a supply of eggs which is set before birth and begins to decline before she is even out of the womb, and by the time she reaches menopause the vast majority of her eggs are gone.
Men, on the other hand, produce sperm throughout their lives, and the concentration of semen remains the same. Technically a man can father a child at any age, but for women age plays a huge factor in their ability to bear a child naturally.
Men’s versus women’s biological clocks: similarities
As women age their production of oestrogen declines, along with a decline in fertility and a higher risk of birthing a child with genetic defects. As men age their production of testosterone declines, as does their fertility, and they also have a great chance of fathering a child with genetic problems.
Just because a man can make the same concentration of semen throughout his life does not mean that the sperm is of the high quality needed to father a child. The volume, motility, and quality of sperm decline with age, meaning the male partner’s age is just as big a factor in fertility problems.
In recent years, clinical trials have found evidence to suggest that older men have a much higher risk of fathering a child with genetic abnormalities from rare conditions like dwarfism, to relatively common conditions such as Down’s Syndrome and schizophrenia.
A study published in the Journal of Urology found that the rate of Down’s births doubled amongst women aged 35 to 39 if their partner was also over 35. However, if the woman is under 35 then paternal age factors aren’t as much of a risk as the ovaries have a built in mechanism to repair damaged DNA delivered by the sperm.
How can men turn back their clock?
The male biological clock can actually be reversed, unlike the female one. There are a number of ways that men can help themselves to be more fertile:
- Lose weight: Obesity has been linked to fertility as a man’s waist size is directly proportional to his testosterone level. Plus men who are overweight often lead sedentary lifestyles and have other health problems such as heart disease which slows blood flow, therefore affecting a man’s ability to get and maintain an erection.
- Get infections treated: One of the biggest causes of male infertility is an infection in the reproductive tract, such as the prostate. A low grade infection may go undetected for years, all the while secretly damaging or killing off sperm when a course of antibiotics could solve the problem.
Male infertility is usually easier to diagnose and fix than female infertility; if you’ve been actively trying to get pregnant for over a year without success then one of the best courses of action to take is to start with the male partner. If you’re concerned about your fertility then speak to the experts at TCM Health Care about fertility testing and treatments.