Women who plan on having children are well aware of their biological click, that maddening tick-tick-tick in the background that serves as a constant reminder of just how quickly time is passing. And while it’s true that fertility changes over our lifetimes, and peak productive years for women are somewhere between the early 20s and early 30s, that’s not the end of the story. Surprise—men have a biological clock too.
Understanding the Decline of Male Fertility
If this comes as a shock, we get it. We’ve all heard stories of men well into their 80s fathering children. So what gives? The issue isn’t with a man’s ability to produce the sperm necessary for conception. It’s the quality of the sperm that changes with age, and it’s something we can chalk up to a few causes.
From a chemical perspective, a man’s testosterone, DHEA, and estrogen levels naturally decline with age. At the same time, FSH and LH levels creep upward. That combination alone wreaks havoc on fertility. But that’s not all. On the physical side of things, it’s true that new sperm is made daily. But weaknesses in that sperm’s DNA increase with age, which can effect the health of both the resultant pregnancy and the baby. It makes sense, really. Time takes a toll on our bodies as a whole—why would sperm be any different?
A study published in Maturitas reviewed 40 years of research into the impact of parental age on fertility, pregnancy, and children’s health, and the big takeaway is that a man’s advanced age appears to have just about the same effect as a woman’s.
A growing body of research is finding strong evidence between advanced paternal age and the following:
- A greater risk of birth defects
- A greater risk of developmental disorders including autism, Apert syndrome, even schizophrenia
- A greater risk of miscarriage and regardless of a partner’s age, health and risk factors
So when does the trouble begin? There’s no accepted definition of advanced paternal age, but it ranges between 35 and 45. After 45, men are at risk of decreased fertility and the issues outlined above.
Boosting the Odds
Of course, nothing can turn back time. And if your shot at fatherhood happens to come later in life, there are a few ways to make it count. In addition to a healthy diet, regular exercise, and stress mitigation, a high-quality prenatal vitamin can be a game changer.
At Beli, we formulate our men’s prenatal vitamins specifically to support male fertility. That means a precise balance of the vitamins and nutrients you need for conception, a healthy pregnancy, and a healthy baby, as well as everything you need to support your own body during this wild ride. Spoiler—testosterone levels drop just before and just after your baby’s birth, and Beli can keep you going strong.
Plus, it’s as easy as swapping out your regular multivitamin.
While more evidence is needed to really pinpoint when male fertility begins its decline, the fact is that it does happen. And because anyone actively trying for a baby will do whatever it takes to ensure that baby is starting life as healthy as possible, it’s important to have all of the information. We can’t stop the march of time, but with Beli, you can be sure you’re doing all you can to be the best father possible.