… and while we spend a lot of time writing about women’s reproductive health, turns out, when it comes to conception, men ’s health matters just as much. In fact, male infertility could account for up to half of all couple infertility. We’ve previously discussed factors that can play into male infertility and reproductive health, but we haven’t yet talked about one of the big challenges that men have to overcome when it comes to having a baby: Their biological clock.
Yes, Men Really Do Have a Biological Clock!
When we talk about the “biological clock” that drives whether or not a person can have a baby, it’s usually in reference to women. In fact, we even define “advanced maternal age” at 35, while the designation of “advanced paternal age” is still mostly used in scientific journals. But it’s true: Men do have a biological clock, and while they may be capable of having babies for their entire lives, it may become harder as they age.
The Effects of Age on Fertility
While yes, men do produce sperm throughout their entire lives and can father a child at advanced ages, older men experience a drop off in fertility much like women do. Men who are 45 or older take, on average, five times longer to conceive than men 25 and younger. One study shows that men’s fertility begins to decline around age 35 – much like women’s.
Moreover, a father’s age can matter immensely when it comes to the health of their children. To understand why, it helps to know how sperm is created. New sperm is created when an existing sperm replicates its DNA, then splits in two. This process is repeated over and over, millions of times. Most of the time, nothing goes wrong – but sometimes, DNA can mutate in the process, causing changes that can ultimately create health problems in potential children. For example, studies have shown that a father’s age correlates with instances of schizophrenia, autism, and other disorders.
What You Can Do
Of course, even men who want to become fathers at older ages can take steps to improve their chances of having a healthy baby. Things like losing extra weight and quitting smoking can help improve a man’s chances of becoming a father. There are also several treatable conditions that may affect male fertility, so seeing a male infertility specialist can be invaluable for men looking to conceive.
While many ways to increase your chances of a pregnancy involve treatment, another option to consider is home insemination. This drug-free choice helps put more sperm near a woman’s cervix, right where it needs to swim through.
When it comes to having babies, men of any age may be able to produce sperm – but that doesn’t always mean their chances of pregnancy are the same. A man’s “biological clock” ticks, too! Understanding how aging impacts fertility – and what you can do about it – can help you make choices that are right for you and your family.