At Trak we tend to encourage sperm-friendly health and lifestyle habits that are somewhat in your control when you’re trying to conceive: smoking, weight, diet, hot tubs, etc.  But what about a fertility decline with age?  Unless you’re one of those Silicon Valley tycoons trying to halt your aging process with a bunch of new-age chemicals and expensive machines, you really have no control over your years on this planet.

Everyone knows about women’s “biological clock”.  Generally chances of conception decline and the risk of pregnancy complications increase as women reach their later 30’s and 40’s.

But what about men?

Evidence for the Decline in Fertility in Older Men

Sorry to break it to you fellas, but our reproductive parts don’t exactly age like a bottle of fine wine either.

It’s a little different for men than women though.  Women are born with all of their eggs at day one, whereas men are constantly making new sperm.  However, both the quantity and quality of sperm will generally diminish as a man gets older.

A study of 2,112 couples in the United Kingdom showed that it took couples 5 times as long to get pregnant when the male partner was older than 45, and that those men were 4.6 times more likely to not achieve pregnancy than men less than 25.

Other studies have shown that IVF success rates are lower in men over 50 years of age and have an increased likelihood of pregnancy loss.

Your sperm’s genetic components generally decline with age as well.  Studies show older men have a higher prevalence of genetic abnormalities that can lead not only to fertility issues, but higher risk of birth defects in children as well including autism, schizophrenia, some forms of cancer, and other chromosomal abnormalities.

How Old is Too Old to Be a Dad?

So what should you do if you’re an older man trying to have a child?  First of all, don’t give up hope.  The oldest father on record was 96 years old.  To be fair that guy probably wasn’t nominated for Dad of the Year, but he did make the record books.oldest father on record

Secondly, there are no well-defined thresholds today for “how old is too old”, nor is there consensus about the risks of advanced paternal age. Some say sperm quality starts to decline when men are in their 40’s, others say it’s not until you’re in your 60’s.  A lot more research is needed.

And age is of course only one factor. Your overall health, lifestyle, medical history, and genetics all strongly influence your sperm health and fertility.

Finally, there’s a lot that you can do for your reproductive health, even as an older man.  The sooner you can get tested to see where you stand, the better equipped you are to take action.  Trak is an easy way to get started by testing your sperm count at home and learning what you can start doing to boost your sperm count and overall health.  And don’t be afraid to talk about it with your physician.  A reproductive health specialist can guide your medical options, which may include fertility treatments depending on you and your partner’s situation.  The sooner you start the conversation the better your chances of success.

And who knows – maybe those Silicon Valley guys will roll out the Fountain of Youth soon and slow down our natural tick tick tick   tick      tick         tick             tick   (ok, we doubt it too.)

As always, we’re here to help!

 

References

Kovac J.R., Smith R.P., Lipshultz, L.I. Relationship between advanced paternal age and male fertility highlights an impending paradigm shift in reproductive biology.  Fertility and Sterility 2013; 100(1), 58-59.

Hassan MA, Killick SR. Effect of male age on fertility: evidence for the decline in male fertility with increasing age. Fertility and Sterility 2003;(79 Suppl 3): 1520–7

ASRM. Age and Fertility (booklet). 2012.

Stewart AF and Kim ED. Fertility Concerns for the Aging Male. Urology 2011 Sep;78(3):496-9.

Humm KC and Sakkas D. Role of increased male age in IVF and egg donation: is sperm DNA fragmentation responsible? Fertility & Sterility 2013 Volume 99, Issue 1, Pages 30–36.

Slama, R., Bouyer, J., Windham, G., Fenster, L., Werwatz, A., and Swan, S.H. Influence of paternal age on the risk of spontaneous abortion. Am J Epidemiol2005161816–823