MEN who put their career before having a family should be aware that the ticking of the biological clock is as important for fertility in men as it is in women.
American scientists have discovered that genetic damage to sperm routinely starts to cause infertility in men as young as 35. The strongest biological evidence yet for a significant drop in male fertility in the late thirties is a warning to the increasing number of grey-haired fathers who are leaving it later to have children.
The popular worry that career women risk losing the chance to have children has long been supported by infertility research focusing on how the quality of women’s eggs deteriorates with age. Researchers from the University of Washington in Seattle have now provided the first firm molecular explanation for why childless career men should worry too. The chances of having a baby are reduced if the man is in his late thirties or forties.
The study examined the sperm of 60 volunteers aged between 22 and 60. All the men had healthy sperm counts.
they found that, whatever the sperm count, its genetic quality was closely related to age, with a cut-off point for serious damage of about 35.
Men in the older group had higher concentrations of sperm with broken strands of DNA, more acute levels of such genetic damage and their immune systems were much less efficient at getting rid of faulty sperm. The sperm of the older men were also less vigorous swimmers.
the findings cast new light on the often overlooked problem of male infertility.
apparently about a third of all infertility is male factor. “Male-factor” infertility is more prevalent than people think. It’s not generally in the public’s mind that male sperm quality does indeed go down with age, from, as we now see, the age of 35.”
Men concerned about their fertility should avoid activities such as smoking that may damage the DNA of their sperm. there’s nothing anyone can do about getting older so men who want to retain their own best capacity to father children should try to minimise contact with toxic agents and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
The findings do not suggest that most men who wait until after 35 to try for children will have problems, particularly if the man’s partner is in her twenties or early thirties. But the study does alert fertility doctors to another potential problem when older couples have difficulty in conceiving
Reference: the sunday times