Why Men Need to Care About Age and Their Fertility Too
It can be easy for couples trying to conceive, but facing difficulty, to turn to fertility care for the female partner with little thought to the male partner’s role. After all, society, popular culture, and even our own family and friends so often remind women about their “biological clocks,” even from an early age.
Throughout history, female factor fertility was typically the sole focus of any infertility situation. Even today, couples will often simply assume that a fertility issue lies with one partner while entirely disregarding the other. In cases where a known issue or medical condition is present, this makes sense, but if both partners find the inability to conceive to be unexpected, then it’s fair to screen both partners for a possible issue. This has the added benefit of saving time and helping fertility specialists in preparing the best possible treatment plan.
What could impact male fertility?
- Exercise (lack of or extreme)
- Tobacco use
- Alcohol intake (heavy)
- Illegal drug use
- Personal medical history (STDs, injury to the groin or spine, for example)
- Previous cancer treatment, including chemotherapy/radiation
- Heat applied to the groin over time (hot tub use, laptops, etc.)
How does age affect male fertility?
Around age 40, the quality of a man’s sperm begins to slowly decline. As testosterone levels drop with age, sperm’s motility (ability to swim) decreases. Men in their 40s or older can have sperm that are abnormally shaped, which also makes conception more challenging. There is also a higher risk of miscarriage, developmental disorders, lower in vitro fertilization (IVF) success rates, and generally longer timelines for successful conception.
What do I need to do if I’m concerned about age, male fertility, and difficulty conceiving?
If you believe a male or female factor fertility issue may be present, we recommend contacting a fertility specialist who can determine whether screening is appropriate. It’s important for couples to be proactive by considering whether one or both partners are a factor when struggling to conceive. Disregarding the male partner can add to the time, energy, and expense involved with fertility treatment down the road. It’s always ideal to have all the relevant information present when determining a fertility treatment plan.