Aging Sperm Count
Posted 7/13/2017 by UHBlog
Fine wine improves with time, but the opposite may be true of your sperm, says urologist Kiranpreet Khurana, MD. While the average age of fatherhood continues to rise around the globe, Dr. Khurana says the quality of sperm tends to decline as men get older.
The implications range from increased difficulty conceiving a child to the increased risk of autism and similar conditions for the child, she says.
“We aren’t sure why that is the case, but studies do show a correlation between older men and abnormalities like autism and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) in their children,” Dr. Khurana says.
She says the studies take into account the probability that women who conceive with older men who are in their late 30s and older are likely to be of similar “advanced” parental ages.
According to Dr. Khurana, it has long been suggested that a child’s risk of being born with Down syndrome or other chromosomal disorders increases with the age of the mother. That’s possibly because of an “expiration date” on eggs – a woman is born with all of the eggs she ever will have, which means her eggs are as old as she is.
Men, however, continually produce brand-new sperm throughout their lives. But, Dr. Khurana says, the quality and quantity of the sperm they produce may decline over time.
Around the world the average age when men become fathers is increasing due to career factors and other variables, Dr. Khurana says, which not only may impact the health of the children they produce, but also may impact their ability to conceive.
“As men get older, their testicles change, which usually results in decreased production of testosterone and some changes in sperm quality,” Dr. Khurana says. “Men also run an increased risk of erectile dysfunction as they age. All of those may play a role in older men generally taking longer to conceive than younger men.”
However, she says, a man’s general health probably trumps his age when it comes to his ability to conceive a healthy child.
“If you’re a 20-year-old who is obese and smokes and uses drugs or has other medical problems, you may be more likely to have fertility problems than a 38-year-old who is very healthy,” she says. “Regardless of whether you’re 40 or 20, if you’re planning to have a child, you should try to live as healthy a lifestyle as possible – for your children and for yourself.”
Men who are having difficulty conceiving after trying for six months should consider talking with their doctor and getting checked for physical causes, suggests Dr. Khurana.
Kiranpreet Khurana, MD, is a urologist and Director of Men's Health/Oncofertility at University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center. You can request an appointment with Dr. Khurana or any doctor online.