It's not just women that have a ticking biological clock

Men could have a biological clock too [Photo: Pixabay via Pexels]
Men could have a biological clock too [Photo: Pixabay via Pexels]

For years women have lived under the threat of a ticking fertility timebomb. Barely a day passes without some reference to the female biological clock. Heck, one doctor even recommended that all single women over the age of 35 should be freezing their eggs.

But while many women are basically under the impression that they need to get cracking and procreate as early as possible, men don’t seem to have the same fertility fear. Until now that is.

Because new research has revealed that women aren’t the only ones shouldering the reproductive responsibility.

The study, by the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston, found that age can have a significant impact on a couple’s baby-making chances, and contrary to popular belief male fertility, like their female counterparts, also has a shelf life.

The research examined records of nearly 19,000 IVF treatment cycles between 2000 and 2014. Scientists divided the IVF participants (both male and female) into four age bands: under 30, 30–35 years old, 35–40, and 40–42.

In not exactly surprising news they found that women aged between 40-42 had the least chance of conceiving. But what was somewhat surprising is that findings revealed that for younger women the age of her partner made a difference.

Women aged under 30 with a male partner aged 30 to 35 had a 73% chance of a live birth after IVF. But that rate fell to 46% when the man was aged 40 to 42.

Does male fertility decline with age too? [Photo: Katii Bishop via Pexels]
Does male fertility decline with age too? [Photo: Katii Bishop via Pexels]

Although the study authors drew parallels between older men and declining fertility for both parties, the researchers aren’t completely sure why this is the case.

One theory could relate to the fact that as men get older their sperm is more damaged. Even though men produce fresh sperm every day, the cells the sperm are made from gather their own mutations, and older sperm carries more DNA damage.

Nick Macklon, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, told The Guardian: ““It may help women to encourage their male partners to get a move on. We know from a number of studies that one of the reasons why women are having babies later is because men are sometimes slow to support the idea.”

“This reminds us that it takes two to tango and it’s not just down to the age of the woman.”

So while women are constantly being warned not to leave it too late to start a family, maybe our male counterparts should be heeding the same advice. Unless of course you’re George Clooney, Mick Jagger or Des O’Connor of course.

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