Is Dating Younger Men the Solution to Infertility?
Infertility can be a big relationship problem. But coupling up with a younger guy could improve your pregnancy chances.
Women who date younger guys often have to deal with questions and stares, not to mention lame jokes about being a cradle robber or a cougar. But a new study reveals one upside to being with a younger man: You may have a better chance of pregnancy.
The study, presented at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) annual meeting, examined data from 631 women between ages 40 and 46 who were undergoing in-vitro fertilization. Researchers weren't surprised when they found that the age of the mom-to-be played a big role in whether she was able to carry a baby to term. What was an eye-opener was that the age of her male partner had a lot to do with her baby odds as well. And it's not like the men were in an age bracket that qualified as geezer territory. Their median age was 41, with 95 percent no older than 53. "Unexpectedly, male age was found to be a significant individual predictor of the likelihood of a live birth," wrote the study authors.
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The study was limited, focusing only on the baby success rates of women 40 and older who had IVF. But it adds to a pile of research suggesting that guys have a biological clock of their own. True, unlike women, they can produce sperm and theoretically have kids throughout their lives. But the quality and quantity of sperm starts to take a hit in their early 30s, says Harry Fisch, M.D., urologist and author of The Male Biological Clock. "After age 30, men experience a one percent drop in testosterone level every year, and testosterone is the gas that keeps sperm production runnng properly," says Fisch. In fact, male fertility issues are either the sole cause or a contributing factor for about 40 percent of couples struggling to conceive, according to ASRM.
So should you trade in your 40-something partner if you're closing in on that milestone yourself and hope to be pregnant in the near future? We're not touching that one, but we can tell you that urging your guy to take on some healthy lifestyle habits, like not smoking or packing on excess pounds, will help keep his swimmers in baby-making condition. Smoking can lead to damaged sperm and erectile dysfunction, and extra weight lowers testosterone levels, says Fisch.