We're always hearing of women and their biological clock. But recent research shows that a man's clock is also ticking away in a similar fashion.

Ever heard that your male colleague was worried about his unmarried status and a ticking biological clock? Never, I am sure! Unmarried women in their mid-30s have always been shown concern about their single status and told that the later they marry, the more difficult it will be to conceive. But no one seems to worry about the man's biological clock.

However, recent studies have shown that male fertility also diminishes as age increases. Researchers in Sydney tested the sperm of over 3000 men and found that the sperm starts breaking as the man grows older. These fragmented pieces are least effective in fertilizing the egg. Research has also proved that men above 35 years face an increased risk of genetic abnormalities in the child.

Global issue

“Infertility is a global issue. It is not about the Indian man alone. If we look specifically at infertility, it is an issue that can be a source of significant distress for the individual. And that is directly related the individual characteristics: temperament, personality and available social support,” says Dr. Samir Parikh, Chief Psychiatrist, Department of Mental Health Behavioural Sciences, Max Healthcare.

On the other hand, Dr Hrishikesh Pai, Gynaecologist and Infertility Expert, Lilavati Hospital and Fortis La Femme, says, “Though many men know that their chances of having babies decrease from the late 30s, they invest a lot of faith in chances. I hope that studies like this sill make them more aware of their body and the way it functions. This will make them more watchful and prepared.”

Dr. Parul Sehgal, IVF specialist from Maharaja Agrasen Hospital says, “Studies on male infertility have been going on for years, however, the focus is always different. This study focuses on the fact that the sperm starts breaking off as the man grow older. If a couple does not conceive after two years of trying, then both should consult the right specialist.”

Marrying an aging man can lead to certain complications not just for the future generation but even for the women. Don't wonder if you have had a few miscarriages. All thanks to age!

“If a couple is above 35 or one partner is above 40, there is always a risk that varying disorders like chromosomal disorders, mental retardation or autism can occur in the offspring. For women marrying men in their 40s, miscarriages, problems in delivery and delay in conceiving are major concerns,” sums Dr. Sehgal.

According to Dr. Pai, “Children born to older couple are more susceptible to genetic abnormalities. As they grow old, their DNA deteriorates with age. So problems like Down's syndrome in which extra genetic material delays the way a child develops both physically and mentally. Other problems include autism, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.”

Treatment options

There are some options to treat male infertility today.

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection is used mainly to combat male infertility. The procedure is done under a microscope using multiple devices. As the final step after the procedure, the oocyte is placed under observation for next few days to check for sign of fertility. 

Intracytoplasmic morphologically-identified sperm injection is particularly effective in combating male infertility. Men with low sperm counts or poor quality sperm cells benefit from this more than from conventional IVF. This is because sperm cells and egg cells are mixed together during IVF in the hope that the sperm will be strong enough to fertilize the eggs; sometimes this is not the case.