Do Men Have a Ticking Biological Clock?

Researchers and fertility experts have wondered for many years if men have a biological clock. Studies now are investigating the long-held assumptions about the effect of age of both the mother and the father on child. The focus of fertility has been on women in the past, but it now is aimed at understanding male factor issues. Many studies show that canstockphoto34570747aging women (35 years and older) have decreased fertility, but few exist regarding the male biological clock.

Five to ten decades ago, it was common for couples to have children when in their late teens and early 20s. Now, the age of parenthood is steadily rising, with women and men waiting until their 30s and 40s to start families. This cultural shift is attributed to birth control, the women’s liberation movement, and women entering the workforce.

The Research Findings

Urologist Dr. Fisch wrote a book about the male biological clock in 2005. He reports on that both men and women suffer a decline in fertility as they age. Men’s fertility changes in their 40s and 50s, and like women, certain factors have an effect on male fertility. Factors that affect male fertility include stress, smoking, and weight.

Recent research shows that older paternal age plays a more significant role in infertility than researchers previously thought. With age, hormone levels decline, as well as sperm counts. Men who are obese often have sexual dysfunction, and this poses a significant obstacle for conception. According to new research, conditions like autism and schizophrenia are associated with advanced paternal age.

Male factor infertility can happen at any age from numerous causes, a man can take certain steps to combat this issue. Men can improve diet, exercise, quit smoking, avoid alcohol, and engage in healthy activities. In addition, men should discuss supplements and medications with their physician to see if anything is affecting quality or quantity of sperm. For men where genetic mutation could be a concern, experts recommend preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) with in vitro fertilization. PGD involves testing embryos for many genetic conditions before conception. Embryos chosen for transport to uterus will not have any chromosomal defects or DNA issues.

Effects of Age on Male Fertility

Back in the 70s, less than 15% of men who fathered children were age 35 years or older. Today, that percentage has risen to 25%, with men in their 50s having children. While this is socially excepted, experts caution about the risks of fathering children late in life. While the women decide when babies are conceived, men should consider the effects of age on fertility.

In a recent study of couples undergoing assistive reproductive technologies, researchers concluded that a man’s chance of fathering a child decreases with each lost year. The odds of a successful pregnancy drops by 11% for every year, according to the study findings. Based on study findings, the chances for a successful birth declined even further.

Another revealing study involved 3,400 cases of Down Syndrome. Researchers found that the father’s age plays a role in developing this condition, especially when both parents are over the age of 35 at the time the child was conceived. The incidence of Down Syndrome is related to the sperm at least half of the time, according to these investigators.

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