The male reproductive clock – a myth or a real mechanism

The global trend for delayed child birth also affected the male part of the population.

Experts of the World Health Organization predict that the trend of raising the age of fatherhood will continue and an essential role in this, not least, is played by women – by delaying the birth of the first child, they force their men to also delay becoming parents .

A few statistics – in 1970 less than 15% of all children born in New York had a father aged 35 and over, today – 25%. Even in the group of 50-55-year-old men there is a “birth boom”.

At the moment, there is a widespread belief that a man of 78 years can as easily as an 18-year-old father – Michael Douglas, Rod Stewart, Donald Trump … The list of “old” fathers is long enough, to be an inspiring example.
With age, the male reproductive system undergoes not so many anatomical changes.

Unlike the female, the male climax, called by the beautiful scientific name “andropause”, does not occur suddenly. Unlike menopause, andropause is not characterized by the rapid (for several months) attenuation of certain functions until their complete cessation.

The functions of the male reproductive system are always present and only change slightly with age – the testicles continue to produce sperm, but the pace of this process slows down.

The vas deferens become less elastic, the prostate undergoes changes, but continues to produce fluid that helps male gametes reach the uterus and further into the fallopian tubes for fertilization to occur.

But a man retains his fertility even if his prostate gland is removed.

Furthermore, in the modern world, elderly fathers are becoming more and more socially attractive – financial stability and career success have already been achieved. However, health experts claim that the “late fatherhood” decision carries certain risks.

Statistics convincingly prove that after the age of 40, men’s chances of having a child decrease – in the period 41-45 years by 7% per year, after the age of 45 the rate of fertility decline increases to 11% per year / data from Obstetrics & Gynecology, 2004/.

However, if a man does not smoke, drinks alcohol in moderation, regularly engages in sports and has sex, the effect of age on his fertility is not so significant.

There are other risks – from the results of large-scale studies – involving more than 2 million children, it was found that due to the high number of de novo mutations in the sperm of older men, men aged 45-49 are more -likely to have a child with schizophrenia compared to men younger than 25. This risk triples in men over the age of 50.

Children born to fathers aged 45 and over, compared to the offspring of fathers younger than 30, have almost 4 times the risk of developing an autism spectrum disorder, 2 times the the likelihood of psychosis and suicide attempts.

Children of elderly fathers are 2.5 times more likely to use psychoactive substances and are exposed to a higher risk of developing intellectual disorders – data from JAMA Psychiatry, 2013.

In Europe and America, the trend to freeze sperm at a young age is gaining momentum in order to reduce possible risks for future children.

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