Time waits for no man. We look at why men play a bigger part in having a healthy baby than the world previously thought.
So, can age affect male fertility? Just when you thought that all of the pressure to conceive children by a certain age was solely on a woman’s shoulders, science steps in to challenge our long-held believe, proving that men have biological clocks, too.
Although it has been widely accepted that women experience a sharp decline in their fertility from 35 years onwards - further impacted the increased probability of mum or baby experiencing health consequences - we now know that age can also impact a man’s ability to impregnate a woman. Generally, 30% of fertility problems are indeed related to the man, rather than the woman in heterosexual couples.
Additionally, a decrease in fertility for men aged 45 and above can potentially put their partners at risk for a host of complications that include diabetes, preeclampsia, and gestational diabetes. This is believed to be because of a decline in the hormone testosterone, which plays a significant role in the quality of a man’s sperm.
So the advice is now that older men who are trying to conceive should sit down with a physician to discuss the impact that their age might have on conception, pregnancy, and the health of a child. It may be that this is a key factor for couples who have previously struggled to start a family.
Furthermore, in recent years there has been a spotlight on women who decide to freeze their eggs, thus enabling them to have children in the future. The conversation is now shifting, with some men deciding to 'bank' their sperm before they reach their mid-30s for the same reason - to reduce some of the risk factors that can impact conception and pregnancy further down the line.
Moreover, as women have been advised to stay healthy and take measures that can increase the likelihood of having both a healthy pregnancy and baby, it would behove men to exhibit those similar behaviours. Lifestyle matters for both men and women. For example, focusing on eating well, vitamin supplements and regular relaxation and exercise. Also, discontinuing or limiting the use of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco consumption is now considered to be of vital importance to both men and women.
So it now appears that the tides of change are rolling in, bringing with them new insights that can help revise the course of family planning as we know it, as well as significantly aid those who are looking to build a future family.
Now may be the right time for us to take shared ownership of our goals, and start to talk more openly about the factors that can ultimately affect fertility. As the average age of a first-time parent is on the rise, this seems like a topic that will inevitably remain firmly on the table for years to come, thanks to science, research, and shared experiences.