Tick Tock: the male biological clock

It’s been a long-held belief that one of the great injustices of life is that women are on a fairly tight schedule to have a baby, but men can relax, take their time and become a parent at a time that suits them.

And while celebrities like Mick Jagger and Luciano Pavarotti have stood as shining examples of this fact, new research is suggesting they may be the exception rather than the rule.

Researchers at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston, have completed a study that shows that the male’s ability to father children decreases to a significant level with age.

It’s groundbreaking work because, while scientists have long known that a woman’s chances of conceiving naturally drop sharply from the age of 35, very little is known about male fertility and age.

The researchers studied the records of nearly 19,000 IVF treatment cycles in the Boston area between 2000 and 2014.

Both men and women were divided into four groups: those under 30, 30-35 year-olds, 35-40 year-olds, and those aged 40-42. There was an extra group for men, though: those over the age of 42.

The researches then compared age with resulting live births.

As expected, women in the 40-42 age group had the lowest levels of success. For these women the male partner’s age had no impact.

But it was in the younger women age brackets that the man’s age seemed to make a big difference.

Researchers found that women aged under 30 with a male partner aged 30-35 had a 73 per cent chance of IVF success, but that rate fell to a staggering 46 per cent if the male partner was aged 40-42.

Although the study points to the decrease in fertility of males as they get older, doctors cannot say why. Women are born with their eggs, which decrease in quantity and quality with age, but men produce fresh sperm every day.

But whatever the reason, the science is suggesting that if they want to experience parenthood men might need to get a move on.

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