SURPRISE! He’s Got a Baby Clock, Too
Men have long had the luxury of living immune to the tick-tock of a biological clock. But new research puts an end to that.
As women, the idea of an expiration date has been drilled into our heads since puberty. Everyone from doctors to rom-com characters caution that if you want to be a mom, you’d better get to it by the big 3-5, before your eggs dry up. Guys, on the other hand? It seems like they can make babies whenever they want. But as it turns out, their clock is ticking too—just a little more quietly than ours. “With age, male fertility decreases and the risk of genetic problems in the offspring increases,” says Harry Fisch, MD, author of The Male Biological Clock. He warns that if a man is planning on having a family, he should aim to check off that box before 35, too. Diminishing Returns Record-skipping fact: according to Dr Fisch, men 35 and older are twice as likely to be infertile than those under 30. Yes, guys do produce sperm their whole lives, but the count begins to drop during their late 30s. The decline in sperm is less acute than the decline in eggs, but his age does matter. It’s not just the quantity of his swimmers that takes a nosedive—quality suffers, too. “With each ejaculation, a man regenerates new sperm cells,” explains Dr Fisch, “but as testicular cells age, they don’t function as well.” So while his sperm can fertilise your egg, it could result in abnormalities. “There is a higher occurrence of Down syndrome, autism, and schizophrenia in children,” says Dr Fisch, “and women are more likely to miscarry with a partner who is 35 or older.”
Babies & Beer Guts
There’s one other factor guys need to think about: their overall health. “For a woman, age is the most important factor for fertility,” says Dr Fisch, “but an unhealthy man—who is overweight, smokes, does drugs, and/or drinks too much—runs the risk of interfering with his sexual function as well as sperm production and quality.” Bottom line: if you’re in a committed relationship with someone you want to have kids with, you may want to broach this topic with him, since he likely assumes his swimmers will remain as fit as Michael Phelps forever. He may not be able to stop the ageing process, but he can take care of himself and stay fit, so the two of you will have the best chance possible of having a healthy baby.