Tick tock, fellas. Turns out that, just like women, we need to start watching the biological clock.
Research conducted on IVF couples has shown that the chances of a successful pregnancy drop significantly with older fathers. Presented at the 2017 European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, the research looked the rates of live births for couples on IVF treatment, with a specific focus on age.
In the study group, if a woman was under 30 and her partner was 40 to 42, the live birth rate was about 46 per cent, compared to 73 per cent for those whose baby daddies were between 30 and 35.
Unlike women, men don’t go through a significant biological change like menopause. But the researchers suggest that, as we age, our complex reproductive machinery (which pumps out about one billion sperm cells a month) starts working less effectively. This could result in genetically damaged sperm or a decline in our ‘semen parameters’ (standards around things like volume, colour, concentration, flavour and pH that the WHO has established).
“…if you’re thinking about having kids, it’s never too soon to start looking after your baby-maker.”
While there’s no definitive ‘why’ yet, the results are clear: age is a factor. So, if you’re thinking about having kids, it’s never too soon to start looking after your baby-maker. Here are a few things you can do to keep your swimmers in top shape for as long as possible.
Eat less bacon and more fish.
There’s been a lot of research on the relationship between diet and fertility, but the most recent bombshell is that eating one or more serves of processed meats (like bacon or sausages) per day can decrease your sperm count a lot.
The study, conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, enlisted 150 men to give 338 sperm samples (altogether, not each) over an 18-month period, with specific dietary limitations.
Along with the bad news for bacon eaters, the study also indicated that guys who eat fish, especially oily fish like tuna and salmon, seem to be boosting their sperm count. Eating more fruit and vegetables is also a good way to keep your gonads purring.
“…eating one or more serves of processed meats (like bacon or sausages) per day can decrease your sperm count a lot.”
And in possibly the best news, caffeine and alcohol didn’t seem to have any effect either way.
Get lifting, but go easy on the cardio.
According to another study by our friends at the Harvard School of Public Health, men who lift weights and get involved in outdoor activities for exercise have higher testosterone levels and higher sperm counts.
A ‘moderate’ level of exercise (a few sessions of 45 minutes to an hour per week) is ideal. But don’t overdo it – there is some evidence that too much endurance training can raise stress levels, reducing testosterone and possibly having a negative effect on sperm count as well.
Competitive cycling is singled out particularly as a sperm killer, but there are potentially reasons other than exercise, like overheating in all that Lycra or squashing your equipment with hours of training on a bike seat.
Probably a good idea even if you don’t care about your sperm.
“Some STIs, especially gonorrhea and chlamydia, can negatively impact fertility if left untreated.”
Wear boxers. Or briefs. Or a jock. It doesn’t matter.
While it’s true that your testes operate a few degrees lower than your core body temperature, researchers at Stony Brook University in New York have debunked the myth that ordinary briefs cause your scrotum to overheat.
Your everyday underwear doesn’t make an appreciable difference to either temperature or sperm count.
Get checked for STIs regularly.
Some STIs, especially gonorrhea and chlamydia, can negatively impact fertility if left untreated. Studies at Frankfurt’s J.W. Goethe University have shown that chronic infections can cause urethral strictures (narrowing of your most precious plumbing) and inflammation of the testicle, both of which can reduce your fertility.
Talk to your doctor and get tested (and treated if necessary) regularly, to reduce your chances of developing a chronic infection or passing one on.