Men trying for a child in their fifties are over a third less likely to conceive.
This is according to new research, which found these men aged 51 and above are 34% less likely to become fathers compared to men of a younger age.
It’s true that older fathers are by no means unheard of – think Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger and Ronnie Woods, both becoming fathers in 2016 at the age of 68 and 73 respectively.
However, the latest research shows that not all men can rely on prolonged fertility in older age.
Researchers looked at data from 4,271 men trying to conceive through IVF at the Centre for Reproductive and Genetic Health (CRGH) in London between 2009 and 2018.
Men in the 51 and above age group had a 30.5% chance of conception, compared to the success rate for men under 35 who had an almost one in two chance of conception.
There was also a significant difference between men under 35 and those in their 40s, with the rate of conception falling to 35.1% for men aged between 41 and 45.
For those aged 45 to 50 this fell to 32.8%.
This is believed to be down to a decline in sperm quality, which becomes damaged with age.
While concerns about the biological clock normally centre around women’s age, these findings suggests that a man’s age can still have a significant impact on a couple’s fertility.
“Men’s sperm seems to be unaffected by their age right up to the age of 50, which is when there is a significant decline,” said study lead Dr Guy Morris from the Centre for Reproductive and Genetic Health.
He added: “Women lose the function of their reproductive organs when they go through the menopause. In men, the quality and quantity of sperm production declines with age and this seems to have a significant effect after the age of 50.”
The study follows research released earlier this week which found teenage males following a junk food diet are causing irreversible damage to their sperm.
Eating foods such as pizza, sugary drinks, chips and burgers can result in significantly lower sperm counts compared to following a healthier diet.
Eating a junk food diet also causes oxidative damage to Sertoli cells – a type of cell contained in the testicles which is associated with producing healthy sperm. This effect cannot be reversed in later life.