When do men stop producing sperm? Here's all you need to know

We have heard stories of men in their 70s or older fathering children, hence, we tend to think that men are fertile until their death.

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While there is some truth to that, men also experience a decrease in fertility with age, though more gradually than female fertility rates. When we hear the term "biological clock," most of us tend to connect that term to women. But to some extent, men, just like women, face a biological clock.

At what age do men stop producing sperm?

There is no set time when a man’s sperm production stops.

As men age, testosterone levels go down and for some, it might be hard to get an erection. Many men experience erectile dysfunction after age 40. But this is a general slowing, not stopping, of male fertility.

At what age are men most fertile?

The answer to this question varies depending on what parameters you look at. Studies have shown that the overall sperm quality was best between ages 30–35. When researchers look at how well sperm moves forward (sperm motility), it was best before age 25. They also show that men older than 45 took five times longer to conceive than those under age 25.

This gradual fertility decline is different for each man, and the ability for them to have a baby also depends on their partner.

How does age affect sperm?

As men age, the most common and dramatic changes are seen in sperm morphology and motility. Sperm motility is how well sperm moves forward. Morphology measures the shape, size, and structure of sperm. Ageing can increase the number of abnormalities in sperm.

Reasons for sperm decline

A man’s testosterone levels gradually decline starting at 20 years of age. This is because hormonal changes start happening that alter sperm production, creating lower-quality sperm.

Another factor is oxidative stress, which is when excess free radicals cause damage to cells in the body. This is due to imbalances of antioxidants that normally keep free radicals in check. Research shows oxidative stress impacts sexual health too, damaging sperm and leading to increases in DNA damage as men age.

Environmental factors and health conditions can also affect sperm or boost oxidative stress. Heart disease, diabetes, weight gain, and other chronic illnesses are all linked to lower sperm quality.

Infertility can also be a sign of a broader medical problem. There are some medications that impact sperm production.

How can men improve sperm count?

There are general lifestyle approaches you can take to boost your sperm count as well including:

  1. Eat a healthy diet (and limit unhealthy fats and sugars).
  2. Get regular exercise.
  3. Make room for quality sleep (sleep helps sperm production).
  4. Reduce stress.

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