December 02, 2011
Yet another reason to have sex now: Your biological clock is ticking. According to new research at the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine, it’s not just the ladies who have a magic number. The study found that as male mice reached middle age—about 45 in human years—the ability to produce a pregnancy when the male mated with a young female dropped 50 percent.
And when older sperm did produce, the miscarriage rate was much higher—about 50 percent versus 10 percent in young mice.
Researchers say that around age 45 the quality of sperm being produced declines for male humans, too. “It’s a natural aging process. As the cells in the testicles age, they manufacture sperm less efficiently,” says William Schoolcraft, MD.
“Women are commonly blamed for infertility. That may be too simplistic,” Schoolcraft says. “Men tend to think, ‘Who cares if I’m 30, or 50, or 70?’ We have to realize that it does matter.”
While the aging process (both yours and your sperm’s) can’t be reversed, Schoolcraft says that changes in diet and lifestyle can guard against sperm decline. “Many of the foods that serve to protect your heart protect semen, too,” says Schoolcraft. Folic acid and vitamin A are also key ingredients for male sex hormones and sperm production, so make sure you’re getting plenty of dark leafy green vegetables, milk, and eggs.
Zinc is a key mineral for cell division, which helps with sperm production. Experts recommend 11 mg a day for men. Find it in a multivitamin or oysters (76.6 mg zinc in six oysters), crab (6.5 mg in 3 ounces), and fortified cereal (3.8 mg in ¾ cup).
Another tip? Sperm function best slightly below the body’s temperature of 98.6 degrees, so exposing your boys to temperature much above that—heat from a laptop on your lap or a Jacuzzi—can damage the production process, explains Schoolcraft.
Consider freezing sperm if you’re getting close to age 50 and still want to have kids, Schoolcraft recommends.
Men’s Health Magazine