Wednesday, January 24, 2018

How Much Does a Man's Age Matter for His Fertility, Really?

Women have been told for years, more like decades, that it is best they have their babies before they reach 35, or by 35 years of age at the latest. But the reality is that many women have healthy babies after the age of 35, and many women have given birth to their own biological babies (as opposed to using egg donors) even in their late 40’s.

However, as far as fertility being an issue for older men, there are not enough studies to confirm whether fertility becomes an issue for older men or not, though it is believed that male fertility may start declining after the age of 40. After all, men make sperm until the day they die – unlike women, who are born with all the eggs they will ever have and those are generally depleted by their 40’s. So female fertility after 40 is scientifically drastically reduced.

While women over 35 who are pregnant are thrown into the category as geriatric maternal age (which doesn’t sound very nice!), the label is due to the fact that there are known risks for older women who do get pregnant for reasons mentioned previously.

Even though it is not overly clear whether male fertility does decline as the man ages, again reproductive endocrinologists advise men to have kids before they are 40 because it is believed that sperm quality may decline as men age. Even though there are many older men such as Hugh Hefner who was 65 when his youngest son was born, as well as Donald Trump, and George Clooney being in his 50’s when his twins were born, it is not recommended that men wait that long to become fathers.

In fact many reproductive endocrinologists believe that if men father children in their 60’s and 70’s, there are higher rates of birth defects as well. It is simply because as men age, their bodies become more frail no matter how well they take care of themselves, and the same would apply to their reproductive systems.

However, the reason that men remain fertile much longer than women is because sperm is constantly regenerating every 3 months, whereas women are born with a number of follicles which are immature eggs. Therefore, once girls reach puberty, many eggs end up dying off in the process. And every time women get their periods, more eggs are lost as well. The older women get, the fewer eggs they have, and as they age, the quality of eggs goes down as well.

However, at the same time in regards to male fertility is concerned being tied to age, the concentration of sperm may reduce as the man ages. The actual semen volume that men produce can decrease as well when men get older. In addition to the fact that the sperm may swim slower and may have poor shape as the man becomes older so that definitely has a negative impact on male infertility. If men are taking medications as well for high blood pressure or diabetes, that will certainly have a negative impact on male fertility, as well as sex drive. However, a 20-year old man may have to take medication that can affect his fertility and he will be facing the same issues as well.

There has also been some recent research conducted which has found that there is a small chance that if a man over the age of 45 fathers children, the odds of having children with conditions such as psychosis, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and autism are slightly higher. However, the research conducted on that is so new that the cause of these issues have not been found other than the correlation between the father’s age and the risks for their children to develop these disorders.

That alone should not frighten men away from fathering children if they are in their 40’s. Many men want to build their careers in their 20’s and 30’s before they settle down and start a family. Therefore, plenty of men are fathering children in their 40’s and their kids turn out just fine.

There is still more of a risk for women getting pregnant over 35, even more so over 40 than men fathering children in their 40’s and even 50’s. Fair or not, it is what it is. But it doesn’t mean it can’t be done, but it needs to be done more with caution.

Both men and women who are planning to become parents at an advanced age can always take excellent care of themselves and develop methods to increase their fertility. Both will be more fertile even at an older age if they get their weight down (or up) to an acceptable level, kick bad habits such as smoking, drinking, doing drugs and drinking more than 1 cup of coffee a day.

They can also take vitamins, herbs and eat foods that are rich in fertility enhancing nutrients such as Omega 3’s and zinc. Women must always take folic acid before getting pregnant as well and continuing to take it in the early stages of pregnancy.

Men and women who plan on becoming parents at an older age must visit the doctor before even considering it to know about what possible risks they could face, and assess their health before giving them the green light.

Doctors will likely need a sperm sample from older men in order to assess the count and quality of the sperm. If the sperm quality and count is normal even in a healthy man who is older than 40, then odds are they will produce healthy offspring.

To sum up, because it is known that as men (and women) age, health will decline due to that. As a result, fertility will be impacted to a degree for a man. And it is known that older men have a slightly higher risk of producing offspring with some mental disorders. However, it is still unknown how much a man’s fertility is impacted as a whole as he ages since there is still not enough evidence to support these studies as of yet.

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