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Age Raises Infertility Risk in Men, Too

Risks associated with men's biological clocks may be similar to women's.

A 'Paternalistic' Urge?

Will knowing that their reproductive risks rise with age cause childless men in their 30s and 40s to develop paternalistic pangs?

"Inwardly, we understand that something is going on. We might express it by showing a desire to initiate a family. Some men, on the other hand, express the biological changes by buying a hot sports car," Fisch tells WebMD.

Not everyone agrees on the existence of such an inward connection.

"I'm suspicious of the maternal aspect of the biological clock, let alone the paternal part," says Michael Kimmel, PhD, a sociology professor at Stony Brook University. Even acknowledging that they have a biological clock would be a leap for men.

"For millennia, men would have been thrilled to deny any biological clock," Kimmel tells WebMD. Admitting such a 'weakness' is antithetical to our male culture. Ironically, this attitude of invincibility has been detrimental to men's health. "It's led to higher rates of HIV, stress-related disease, etc.," Kimmel tells WebMD.

This attitude can also have a negative impact on men's fertility. Poor lifestyle habits may hasten the inevitable decline of a male's fertility.

Slowing the Decline

But improving one's lifestyle can help slow the decline. For men wanting to maintain their maximum fertility, Fisch offers these suggestions: "Maintain optimal weight, cut out recreational drugs, and stop smoking." Taking care of seemingly unrelated conditions may help too. High cholesterol is one of them. A recent study in the Journal of Urology showed that, for men with high cholesterol and erectile dysfunction, the regular use of a cholesterol-lowering drug improved both problems: It lowered cholesterol and improved erectile function in eight of nine people.

Fisch also urges men who suspect fertility problems to get tested. "First, make sure you don't have a physical problem," he says. "Some men walk around with testicular cancer and don't even know it."

The bottom line, says Fisch, is this: "Infertility is not just a woman's problem."

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