Why Men Should Think About Their Biological Clock Too

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As we celebrate Men’s Health Month this June, it’s a perfect time to reflect on various aspects of men’s health that often go unnoticed. One such topic, rarely discussed but critically important, is men’s fertility and the concept of the male biological clock. At Reproductive Partners Fertility Center in San Diego (RPSD), we aim to shed light on why men, just like women, should be conscious of their fertility timeline.

Understanding the Male Biological Clock

The idea of a biological clock is often associated with women, but men also experience changes in fertility as they age. While men continue to produce sperm throughout their lives, the quality and quantity of sperm can decline with age. Statistics show that up to 50% of infertility problems among couples can be traced to male medical conditions. Difficulties range from issues with sperm production to obstruction of sperm delivery. Studies have shown that after the age of 40, the chances of successful conception begin to decrease, and the risk of genetic abnormalities increases.

The Impact of Age on Sperm Quality

As men age, several factors affect sperm quality, including:

  1. Decreased Sperm Count: Aging can lead to a reduction in the number of sperm produced.
  2. Reduced Sperm Motility: The ability of sperm to move effectively diminishes with age.
  3. DNA Fragmentation: Older sperm are more likely to have DNA fragmentation, which can affect embryo development and increase the risk of miscarriage.
  4. Increased Genetic Mutations: The risk of genetic mutations in sperm increases with paternal age, potentially leading to conditions such as autism and schizophrenia in offspring.

Health Factors Influencing Male Fertility

Men’s overall health significantly impacts their fertility. Conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and lifestyle factors like smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and exposure to environmental toxins can impair sperm production and function. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is crucial for preserving fertility.

  1. Diet and Exercise: A balanced diet rich in antioxidants and regular exercise can improve sperm quality.
  2. Avoiding Toxins: Limiting exposure to pesticides, heavy metals, and other environmental toxins helps protect sperm health.
  3. Regular Check-Ups: Regular medical check-ups can help detect and manage health conditions that could affect fertility.

Planning for the Future

Being proactive about fertility means making informed decisions about family planning. Here are some steps men can take:

  1. Semen Analysis: A basic semen analysis can provide valuable insights into sperm health and identify potential issues early.
  2. Fertility Preservation: For men not ready to start a family, sperm banking is a viable option to preserve fertility for the future.
  3. Healthy Lifestyle Choices: Adopting and maintaining healthy lifestyle habits to support long-term reproductive health.

Treatment Options

  1. Percutaneous Epididymal Sperm Aspiration (PESA): PESA is a non-invasive technique used to retrieve sperm in the event of a blockage. It is a quick, in-office procedure performed under local anesthesia. Tiny needles are used to collect fluid from the epididymis, where sperm is stored after production in the testes.
  2. Testicular Sperm Aspiration (TESA): TESA is another in-office procedure focused on sperm retrieval–this time directly from the testes. It is done under local anesthesia with a small needle that extracts sperm from the testicle.
  3. Trans-rectal Ultrasound of the Prostate with Seminal Vesicle Aspiration: This is the most widely used technique for diagnosing an obstruction within the male reproductive system. In this diagnostic test, your physician uses ultrasound to determine if there is a sperm blockage and to pinpoint the location. This very specific and simple ultrasound requires no sedation.
  4. Microscopic Testicular Dissection: Patients who have problems with sperm production may undergo this technique. It is performed under general anesthesia in an operating room setting. Under a high-powered microscope, testis tissue is examined for sperm retrieval. The procedure can take up to three or four hours, but the patient goes home the same day.
  5. Microscopic Epididymal Sperm Aspiration: A slightly more invasive technique than PESA, this procedure uses microsurgical techniques to collect sperm from the epididymis. It is done in an operating room under general anesthesia. Your physician retrieves a large quantity of sperm, some of which can be frozen, in order to avoid the necessity of additional procedures. Patients go home the same day.
  6. Microscopic Vasectomy Reversal/Vasal Reconstruction: This allows men who have undergone a vasectomy to become fathers again. An intricate, microscopic reconstruction is performed in an operating room under general anesthesia to reverse the previous vasectomy. Patients return home the same day.
  7. Microscopic Varicocel Repair: This is the most common surgical procedure used to treat male infertility. Varicoceles are varicose testicular veins in the scrotum that can affect fertility. During a one-hour operation under general anesthesia—and with the help of an operative microscope—veins are ligated to decrease venous blood flow in the reproductive tract and improve testicular function by reducing scrotal temperature.

To learn more about our services and how we can assist you, visit our website or schedule a consultation today. Let’s make men’s health, including fertility, a priority this month and every month.