Does Sperm Count Decrease As You Get Older?

It is common knowledge that women have a biological clock, but not many people realize that men also have a biological clock. As a woman ages, her fertility starts to wane – she stops ovulating, her ovarian reserve diminishes, and she eventually enters menopause.  

Men's Biological Clock

Dr. Harry Fisch, the author of “The Male Biological Clock,” believes that with age, male fertility decreases along with a reduction in testosterone, and their sperm quality decreases.

A significant genetic abnormality arises in babies who are born of the sperm of older men. Just as with a woman, a man’s biological clock also starts ticking around the age of thirty to thirty-five.

Testosterone decreases at a rate of 1 percent a year after 30. Since testosterone is the male hormone needed to create good-quality sperm, it will take an older man a much longer time to conceive a child than a younger man will.

If both partners are over the age of 35, they should consider having genetic testing done to rule out any issues.  

Sperm Regeneration

Unlike a woman’s eggs, sperm cells are constantly regenerating themselves. Nevertheless, this continual renewal of sperm cells can lead to a genetic mutation.

The older a man is, the more his sperm cells are divided, and the more divisions present, the more there is a chance for an abnormality to occur. As a man gets older, not only is there a decrease in sperm production, but there is also a decrease in semen volume and sperm motility, as well as variations in the shape and size of the sperm.  


Improving Sperm with Lifestyle Factors

A man can slow down his biological clock by simply living a healthier lifestyle.

This includes quitting smoking and reducing alcohol intake, as well as adopting a healthy and balanced low-fat diet. Dr. Fisch also recommends that men should take care of varicoceles, which are enlarged veins in the scrotum that could endanger the production of sperm.

Men tend to gain weight as they age and a man, who has a body mass index of more than 25, has a 20 percent chance of infertility. The size of a man’s waist is directly linked to his levels of testosterone. The larger a man’s waist is, the lower his testosterone levels are.

On the other hand, men that maintain low body weight with a B.M.I. of less than 20, will also have a decrease in sperm count. An ideal B.M.I. is between 20 and 25.

In addition to the lifestyle changes that a man can make to improve and preserve his fertility, men are also advised to avoid Jacuzzis as they heat up the testicles and lower fertility.

Environmental toxins such as heavy metals are also known to cause problems of male fertility. Large concentrations of lead and cadmium that one can get because of smoking have been proven to decrease sperm. Mercury derived from fish plays a part as well.

It's wise to keep age in mind when you a pre-planning when to start your family.  If you are older and are trying now, making lifestyle changes can improve your overall fertility and health. 

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