I could have titled this post, “What’s The Age Limit to Male Fertility?” Because, generally speaking, as a man grows older, so does his sperm. Like women, men have a “biological clock” too. But there are things a man can do in the realms of nutrition, supplementation and sex that push the clock back.
WHILST YOU were dancing around the Interwebs late last week, you might have bumped into a story about the world’s oldest new papa, an Indian fella who recently fathered a baby boy at the crazy ripe age of 96.
In addition to all the other considerations one might have about fathering a child at 96, including the actual act of supine conjugation (and I take liberties here in imagining that any position other than horizontal might be too strenuous for the lad), one wonders how in the heck ole pops got the motation back in his sperm.
Yes, you astute readers may now be thinking that it’s “mutation” that should be most evident in this near-Centenarian’s sperm, not “motation”, but, alas, the wonders that yoga and diet can do.
- A regular practice of yoga;
- A diet rich in vegetables (he’s a strict vegetarian) and almonds; and
- (he asserts as his wife grins) Sex three times per night.
(That’s not a typo.)
Science claims that women aren’t the only ones who have a fertility-based biological clock, for it’s now apparent that though sperm production continues until a man’s last breath, both volume and semen quality generally diminish with age.
A Yahoo news post cites a 2004 study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology which found that, “among a sample of couples using in-vitro fertilization, every additional year of a man’s age corresponded to an 11-percent increase in the odds that a couple would not achieve a pregnancy”.
Further, like with older women, the chances of having a child with genetic abnormalities increase with older fathers. As a man ages, random mutations in a man’s sperm accumulate; passing these onto a child increases his or her odds of having autism, schizophrenia and other unhappy outcomes.
So, given that ole Ramajit’s two boys seem to be hale, how did he overcome the odds?
Well, some recent research from the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, agrees with Mr. Raghav assessment that his three behaviors cited above may have a lot to do with his mighty sperm.
Apparently, diets high in vitamin C, antioxidants, vitamin E, zinc and folate (the latter four of which are found in almonds) can prevent DNA damage from accumulating in sperm.
Which brings us to his number 3 behavior: An Australian study presented at the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Amsterdam in 2009 found that daily ejaculation helped reduce DNA damage in sperm for the majority of men, though it increased DNA damage in some. (Source)
Obviously there’s no DNA damage happening in Ramajit’s mighty swimmers, despite how often they’re released!
Sperm and Diet
In addition to the antioxidants and other sperm-strengtheners cited above, sperm quality and quantity are also improved by consumption (by you, not the sperm – it just wants eggs) of a docosahexnoic acid, or DHA, a fatty acid found in fish. Turns out that DHA transforms dysfunctional round-headed sperm into strong swimmers with cone-shaped heads packed with egg-opening proteins.
That cone head opens an egg, wiggles in, and – eureka! – baby-making happens.
In addition to the DHA and various antioxidants, researchers say that men over 44 years of age with high vitamin-C diets had 20 percent less DNA damage to sperm than their peers who consumed the least amount of vitamin C. As mentioned, antioxidants, vitamin E, zinc and folate had similar effects
Machismo ≠ Super Sperm
Yes, mister, you’re awesome, a manly man, but the bad news is that macho men may not have super-sperm.
Sure women tend to be attracted to men with deep, manly voices. But research published in Dec. 2012 in the journal PLos ONE finds that these macho guys have no better sperm quality than their high-pitched counterparts.
Strangely, but factually, sperm concentration in deeper-voiced men was lower than in men with higher voices.
Like a six-pack and square jaw, deep voices are linked with testosterone levels, which may be why that particular resonance may send shivers down a woman’s spine. However, the world is a complicated place, and so is sperm: in this case, a high enough level of testosterone can actually impede sperm production.
Which brings me both to the conclusion of this post, and to an oft-mentioned bromide on this site – In all things, balance.
P.S. You fellas (and the women who love them) that are interested in increasing your testosterone levels (irrespective of sperm matters) can read about how to do it in these posts:
P.P.S. Just noticed that I’ve got a lot of “boosting” going on it the above titles… gotta get more creative.
Published on October 23, 2012