The ‘male’ biological clock

A recent study conducted by Kári Stefánsson and published in the journal, Nature, found a relationship between advanced paternal age and higher rates of autism and other conditions in the children of older fathers. The results also suggest that men’s fertility begins to decline around age 30. There is some evidence to suggest that the sperm count of men living in industrialized countries in particular may be falling – in part, due to increased chemical pollution which adversely affects hormones. For example, the findings from a recent study published in Human Reproduction, and conducted by Joelle le Moal, Mathieu Rolland and their colleagues, suggest that between 1989 and 2005, the sperm count of the average man living in France has fallen by 32.2%, and the proportion of “properly formed” sperm has fallen from 60.9% to 52.8%.

Although more research is needed, attention to these findings in the popular media appears to have raised awareness about age-related fertility decline among men – causing some men to begin thinking about, and even consider preserving their fertility. Dr. Alukal, director of male reproductive health at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, has been seeing increasing numbers of young men inquiring about their fertility and fertility preservation methods (i.e., freezing their sperm or cryobanking). Says Dr. Alukal, “People keep asking me, ‘Doc, should I freeze my sperm? What if I meet the right girl 10 or 15 years from now?'”  He estimates that more than 50% of the men who inquire about fertility preservation at his clinic follow through with cryobanking, which costs approximately $500 USD. Annual fees for storing sperm range from $450 USD for one year to $2500 for a decade. Aside from the financial cost, there are no risks to banking sperm.

Read more about the Nature study here and here.

Read more about the trend toward men’s sperm count declining here.

Read more about advanced age and men’s fertility here and here and here.


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