Have you heard of the “biological clock” idea? It’s the idea that women have this inherent need to reproduce before they hit menopause. So around women’s 30s, or even earlier, women will feel compelled to find a man (or woman), settle down, and start having kids.
But for some reason, there isn’t an equal societal expectation and standard for men. For men, society just believes that they can have kids continuously until death. But is that true scientifically? One new study says otherwise.
The recent Fertility Society of Australia conference resulted in some pretty interesting data. New findings found that male fertility is as at risk of faltering after aging as women's. This info came from Franca Agresta of Melbourn IVF.
“There is an aging effect that men should be aware of,” Agresta said. “It's not surprising given most biological processes are impacted by aging.”
For men, 40 is the time to start worrying about a decrease in fertility rates. IVF patients were used in the scientific study. After 1,400 single embryo transfer cycles over a timespan of five years, scientists working with Agresta found that 40 was the magic number. Men under the age of 40 were able to produce an early pregnancy in 39 percent of cases. Meanwhile, men over 40 saw that rate drop down to 26 percent.
“We tried to keep the population as clean as possible as much as we could, to only look at the effect of paternal age,” Agresta explained.
Agresta then suggested that men do the same thing that women do in this situation. Freeze your sperm. Just as women freeze their eggs when worried about not reproducing before their fertility rates go down, men can do the same with their sperm.
This backs data that we shared earlier this year. In a study by Rutgers University, scientists found that men aged 35 to 45 had increased difficulties raising kids.
“In addition to advancing paternal age being associated with an increased risk of male infertility, there appears to be other adverse changes that may occur to the sperm with aging,” said Gloria Bachmann, the study leader and director of the Women’s Health Institute at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. “For example, just as people lose muscle strength, flexibility and endurance with age, in men, sperm also tend to lose fitness over the life cycle.”
She then said:
“Although it’s well-documented that children of older fathers are more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia — one in 141 infants with fathers under 25 versus one in 47 with fathers over 50 — the reason is not well understood,” she adds. “Also, some studies have shown that the risk of autism starts to increase when the father is 30, plateaus after 40 and then increases again at 50.”
It appears the decline of hormones like testosterone are the cause of this. As such, there’s a lowered quality in men’s sperm.
All of this is to say, yes! Men do have biological clocks. And unfortunately, they are ticking. So either plan ahead if you don’t foresee yourself having a kid before 40 or become comfortable with the reality of the situation.