The female vs male biological clock
Women are born with an ovarian reserve. The ovarian reserve is a set number of cells released by the ovaries that will eventually become eggs. These eggs, about 1,000 to be exact, release each menstrual cycle. The frequency and quality of eggs released diminishes, especially past the age of 35. As a result, women are often reminded of the biological clock since age is a factor. Men, on the other hand, produce hundreds of millions of sperm every day. The male biological clock is not taken as seriously, but there is evidence that age affects fertility.
Age and fertility in men
In studies, researchers discovered that older males had lower fertility rates. These men also had a longer time to pregnancy. Men aged 45 and over again had lower conception rates compared to their younger counterparts. Even if these men could get a partner pregnant, there was an increased occurrence of complications. These range from miscarriages, stillbirths, low birth weight, childhood cancers, and more. So what can be the cause of these fertility problems?
Check your T
Testosterone is the hormone that aids in sperm production, as well as several other vital functions. With age, testosterone can reduce as much as 1% yearly. A decline in testosterone may not mean a reduction in the quantity of sperm. Sperm quality decline is minimal with age and often recognizable from age 50. But testosterone will affect the quality of sperm. With age, sperm loses some motility: the ability to move toward the egg. There’s also decreased morphology and concentration of sperm with age. The figures seem small but can cumulate over 10-20 years to impair fertility.
Environmental factors affect sperm quality
A reduction in testosterone is not the only danger to fertility. As the years go by, men are more likely to be exposed to environmental factors that affect fertility. Radiation, exposure to chemicals, or heavy metals can affect fertility. Certain medications, alcohol, and drug use can also affect infertility. Unfortunately, there is a lack of awareness of male fertility and age. The lack of understanding could be the difference between a healthy child and years of disappointment.
Taking steps to address fertility concerns
Any man at an older age should consider a reproductive health assessment before trying to have children. A doctor or reproductive clinic can give advanced information through male fertility testing. The tests should cover not only sperm count but also morphology and motility. If sperm health is a serious concern of the doctor, assisted reproductive technology, or ART, will help.
Types of ART for male infertility
Intrauterine insemination or IUI can help with motility issues. The doctor manually places the sample directly into the woman’s uterus. If several cycles of IUI fail, IVF, or in vitro fertilization, is a powerful option. An embryologist at the fertility clinic will combine the sperm and egg in a culture dish. From there, the created embryo gets implanted in the woman’s uterus. In cases of poor morphology, the embryologist uses ICSI or intracytoplasmic sperm injection. With ICSI, the clinic uses the best sperm to combine with the egg manually. These methods have had positive, successful outcomes.
Keep an eye on the clock
Men should be aware of the dangers of infertility with age. As the body declines and testosterone levels slow, so does sperm. Both quality and quantity are affected, and both are influenced by environmental reasons as well. And if a family is not in the immediate future, consider sperm freezing to keep high-quality sperm ready to go. Get a full assessment from a doctor or fertility clinic today.