Does age affect fertility in men?
It is a well-known fact that female fertility decreases with age. While women cannot have children after menopause, men can father children even in their 60s. What most people don't know is that age affects male fertility too.
How does Age Affect Fertility in Men?
Unlike women, men are not born with a set amount of sperm. Hence, they can father children as long as their body produces sperm. However, as a man ages, his body's capacity to produce sperm reduces. Both the quantity and quality of sperm may deteriorate. The sperm produced may not be the right shape and may not be able to swim through the cervical mucus to fertilise an egg. Low sperm count and poor quality sperm are the most common causes of male infertility. According to a recent study, a man's chances of fathering a child reduce by up to 11% every year.
Age and other Reproductive Risks
As a man ages, the risk of fathering a child with genetic abnormalities also increases. When evaluating Down syndrome cases, a study found that when both parents are over the age of 35 years at the time of conception, the man's age plays an important role in developing this genetic abnormality. In cases where the woman is over the age of 40 years at the time of conception, issues with sperm are related to approximately 50% of all Down syndrome cases.
Children fathered by older men also have a high risk of developing mental issues such as schizophrenia. Men above the age of 50 years have triple the risk of fathering children with such issues as compared to men below the age of 25 years.
Lifestyle Changes that can Improve Fertility
Men who plan on having a family late in life should eat and live healthily to maintain their fertility. Maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking or drinking and eating a low cholesterol diet can help improve the chances of fathering healthy children.