Men have a biological clock too

November 9, 2008

I don’t know chaps, can’t you let us have anything for ourselves? We would willingly pass on giving birth, at least 50% of the time, but you haven’t lined up for that one yet. What you now are laying claim to is having the same sort of biological clock that we thought was exclusive to women. Despite news stories of men fathering children at the age of 80 and upwards, the average man’s fertility does not go on forever.

Although men constantly produce sperm every 90 days for as long as they live, the actual potency of those sperm has been brought into question. We have seen numerous stories about man’s declining levels of fertility where young men today produce a quarter of the sperm their grandfathers did, and have assumed that it was just environmental factors causing greater delays in men being able to get their partners pregnant. In cases referred to fertility clinics, the ratio is now 50/50 for men and women in assessing where the medical problem lies. Now a French study has found that a father’s age could have as much of an impact on the rate of pregnancy and miscarriage as a mother’s age – obviously Charlie Chaplin was an exception.

Generally, in fertility studies, the older either potential parent is then the chances of conception are reduced, and sadly the rate of miscarriage is increased. Statistically, if the man is younger than 25, around 92% will get their partner pregnant in under a year. However, adding just 10 years to the mix certainly alters the statistics, as the number taking under a year then drops to 85%. It’s not just the increased time it can take to create a viable pregnancy. The older a man is, then the greater the risk to the child of Downs syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. Also, fathers over 55 seem to have a greater potential for fathering children with psychological problems with around 37% of them having children who are diagnosed with bipolar disorder at some point in life.

It seems that for men, as for women, the biological clock ticks loudest between 30 and 35 and delaying starting a family may have sound financial reasons – but not necessarily the best health ones.


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