When we talk about aging and fertility, we're usually talking about women. There is plenty of research on ovarian reserves. But in recent years, researchers have begun to pay more attention to what happens to semen and sperm as a man's birthdays go by.
While there isn't a wealth of information yet, we do know that the sperm of older men is linked to genetic problems such as Lesch Nyhan Syndrome, polycystic kidney disease and Hemophilia A [source: Herbert]. Advanced age in a father has also been linked to autism, Down syndrome, epilepsy and schizophrenia [source: Donnelly]. Men are still producing sperm in their 70s, but it isn't the same quality.
That isn't to say that older men shouldn't father children. Rather, the more we know about how aging affects both men and women, the better we can work toward the best outcomes for their kids.
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. "Evaluating Infertility." June 2012. (June 24, 2012) http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq136.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20120623T1249209169
- Association of Reproductive Health Professionals. "Breastfeeding (Lactational Amenorrhea Method." Last reviewed December 2009. (June 24, 2012) http://www.arhp.org/Publications-and-Resources/Patient-Resources/Fact-Sheets/Breastfeeding
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Infertility FAQs." Last reviewed April 19, 2012. (June 24, 2012) http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/Infertility/index.htm
- Donnelly, Laura. "Scientists reveal dangers of older fathers." The Telegraph. May 31, 2008. (June 24, 2012) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/2059130/Scientists-reveal-dangers-of-older-fathers.html
- Harms, Roger W. "How long do sperm live after ejaculation?" Mayo Clinic. May 5, 2012. (June 24, 2012) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/pregnancy/AN00281
- Herbert, Carl. "Sperm Quality and Age." Healthline. (June 26, 2012) http://www.healthline.com/health-blogs/infertility-insights/sperm-quality-and-age
- Mayo Clinic. "Birth control pill FAQ: Benefits, risks and choices." May 21, 2011. (June 24, 2012) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/birth-control-pill/WO00098
- Pearson, Catherine. "Infertility In Your 20s: Getting Diagnosed When You Should Be In Your 'Fertility Peak.'" Huffington Post. June 18, 2012. (June 24, 2012) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/15/infertility-20s-diagnosis_n_1599966.html
- PubMed Health. "Infertility." U.S. National Library of Medicine. Last reviewed Feb. 26, 2012. (June 24, 2012) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002173/
- Santa Monica Fertility. "Pregnancy Myths." (June 24, 2012) http://www.santamonicafertility.com/getting-pregnant/pregnancy-myths.html
HowStuffWorks looks at whether women dealing with fertility issues are more likely to conceive naturally after they adopt or get pregnant with IVF.