Women who want to conceive by fertility are often told that the older they get, the less the chance of success. However, men have a biological clock as well. While they don’t go through traditional menopause, their age can significantly affect how successfully they can conceive. Studies show that men are responsible for up to 50% of infertility among couples.
In addition, research shows that testosterone starts to decline among men in their 30s. Older men are less likely to conceive. They can take up to five times longer. Sperm banks also don’t accept donations from men over 40. This could be because studies show that older men are more likely to have births resulting in a miscarriage. They are also likelier to have a child with a neurological or behavioural disorder.
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What does this mean for couples seeking to conceive?
Men do require as much fertility testing as women. However, research shows that men are 80% less likely than women to see a fertility specialist. If the male partner is over 45, doctors suggest both partners get observed if no pregnancy has happened after six months of sexual activity.
Older men have more genetic mutations in their sperm. The number of mutations increases yearly. With the creation of new sperm, genetic material is copied from existing sperm cells. This duplication leads to errors in the gene code. These errors multiply, and eventually, the body cannot repair them. As men are older, they pass on more mutations to their children.
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For women, eggs diminish from birth. Menopause starts when the eggs are almost depleted. Young men have up to 400 million sperm in every ejaculation. Only the most mobile sperm gets to fertilise the egg. A father’s age increases the chance of hereditary disease. Children born to fathers over 45 have a higher chance of developing autism. They also carry the risk of passing on autoimmune diseases like antiphospholipid syndrome (APS), which shows up as pulmonary embolisms, arthritis, memory disorder, and epilepsy. There is also a higher chance of developing attention deficit hyperactive disorder and bipolar disorder.
Should men have children earlier?
Men are more likely to be socially and financially established when they’re older. The ability of men to be present and able fathers relies on education, training, financial well-being, and the health of the relationship with the children’s mother.
Young fathers also don’t have the same support structures as young mothers. Mothers get midwifery, health visiting, and support systems. On average, men become fathers at 35 worldwide.
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Men should consider fatherhood when they are capable of handling the responsibility. Age shouldn’t pressure them to become fathers sooner than they should. Younger men can also get sexual dysfunction due to physical or mental health problems. Live birth rates are lower for older men, but it’s not a death knell on successful conception.
Couples seeking to conceive should consider the male partner’s age just as much as they consider the female partner. However, if one partner is older, both should seek the advice of a fertility specialist to increase their chances of success.
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