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Older Men Having Children: Why Trend is Worrisome

by Harry Fisch, M.D.,,  Jan 15, 2009

Couples are waiting longer to have children and advances in reproductive technology are allowing older men and women to consider having children.

The lack of appreciation among both medical professionals and the lay public for the reality of a male biological clock makes these trends worrisome. The age-related changes associated with the male biological clock affect sperm quality, fertility, hormone levels, libido, erectile function, and a host of non-reproductive physiological issues. This article focuses on the potentially adverse effects of the male biological clock on fertility in older men.

Advanced paternal age increases the risk for spontaneous abortion as well as genetic abnormalities in offspring due to multiple factors, including DNA damage from abnormal apoptosis and reactive oxygen species. Increased paternal age is also associated with a decrease in semen volume, percentage of normal sperm, and sperm motility. Older men considering parenthood should have a thorough history and physical examination focused on their sexual and reproductive capacity.

Such examination should entail disclosure of any sexual dysfunction and the use of medications, drugs, or lifestyle factors that might impair fertility or sexual response. Older men should also be counseled regarding the effects of paternal age on spermatogenesis and pregnancy.

To read the full report on this study click here.

Dr. Fisch is Professor of Clinical Urology, Department of Urology, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University Medical Center, New York City.

Disclosure: The author states that he has no financial relationship with any manufacturers in this area of medicine.


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