Fertility is a subject that often sparks conversations and concerns among couples planning to start a family. While both men and women play essential roles in conception, the impact of age on fertility differs significantly between the genders. In this blog, we’ll delve into the ways age affects male and female fertility.
Female Fertility: The Biological Clock
Female fertility has long been associated with the concept of the “biological clock.” Unlike men, women are born with a fixed number of eggs that steadily decline in quality and quantity over time. The prime reproductive years for women are typically in their late teens to early 30s. After the age of 35, the decline in fertility accelerates, and the risk of miscarriage and chromosomal abnormalities in offspring increases.
As women age, the chances of conceiving naturally diminish, making it more challenging to become pregnant. The declining ovarian reserve and hormonal changes also result in irregular menstrual cycles and a decrease in egg quality. Assisted reproductive technologies such as IVF, may be required for many couples attempting to conceive after the age of 35.
Male Fertility: A Gradual Decline
Male fertility, on the other hand, doesn’t have a sharp decline associated with a specific age. While sperm production continues throughout a man’s life, the quality and quantity of sperm can deteriorate with age. Unlike women, who experience a noticeable drop in fertility, men experience a more gradual decrease.
Some research suggests that older men may be at a higher risk of fertility issues. As men age, they may face challenges such as decreased sperm motility, lower sperm count, and an increased risk of DNA damage in sperm. These factors can contribute to a higher likelihood of infertility and an increased risk of certain health conditions in offspring.
Shared Responsibility: Age and Fertility
It’s essential to recognise that fertility is a shared responsibility between partners. While women experience a more significant and abrupt decline in fertility as they age, men also face challenges related to sperm quality and quantity over time. The decision to have children is deeply personal and influenced by numerous factors, but knowledge about age-related fertility changes can help couples make informed choices and explore appropriate options to fulfil their family aspirations.