Your biological clock is ticking!!
Now that’s a sentence many women nearing the age of 35 are likely to hear their gynecologists say. Doctors will warn women of the long list of complications that can arise with pregnancies later in life. Men, on the other hand, have never considered the possibility that there can be issues with becoming a father at 40. Like women, they also opt for professional success and life in the fast lane when given the choice of settling down with a partner.
The National Center for Health Statistics reports that the number of babies born to fathers between the ages of 35 to 49 has risen by 2% to 4% in the year 2012. These figures are a clear indication that men now prefer to wait until later in life to start a family. If this is you, think again. That’s because, your doctor may tell you the same thing they tell your wife. Fathering a child at 35 and above carries the same complications that accompany pregnancy at 40 for women. Read ahead to understand how.
Women vs. Men and Parenthood – Some Misconceptions
You’re probably well aware that women have a limited number of eggs. And, as they grow older, fewer of those eggs will remain viable. Declining hormone levels also contribute to the problem and women may have to opt for other channels of motherhood such as assisted pregnancies by way of IVF, surrogacy, or adoption. Men should have no issues with becoming a father at 40 since they continue to remain fertile all through their adult lives replenishing the sperm count every 16 days. However, newer studies are now showing that while men do remain fertile, the declining quality of their sperm can result in various complications with pregnancies and sometimes, also miscarriages.
Aging Sperm can Cause Birth Defects
In humans, each time an egg or sperm cell is produced, it replicates the entire genome including three billion base pairs contained within 23 pairs of chromosomes. During the replication process, some errors occur that are called de novo mutations. Mothers may pass on only 20 such mutations to their kids at any stage in their lives. But, as the age of the father rises to 40 years, he may pass on up to 65 new mutations to his offspring as against the count of 25 errors in a 20-year-old father. These mutations can result in several medical issues in babies ranging from Down’s syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, instances of cleft lip, heart disease, and specific kinds of cancer, among others.
As chief executive of deCODE Genetics in Reykjavik, Kári Stefánsson says in an article published in Nature, “The older we are as fathers, the more likely we will pass on our mutations. The more mutations we pass on, the more likely that one of them is going to be deleterious.” For this reason, men may want to reconsider their decision about becoming a father at 40 and perhaps, opt to settle down at an earlier age.
Various Factors can Activate Genetic Mutations
Professor of psychiatry of the Queensland Brain Institute at the University of Queensland in Australia, John McGrath reveals to Scientific American, “”The links between a father’s age and mental outcomes is multifactorial. You have to take into consideration epigenetic, psychosocial and biological factors.”
Genetic mutations can be caused because of a buildup of toxins in the body and exposure to chemicals in the atmosphere. Excessive drinking and smoking can also result in genetic anomalies that men pass on to their offspring when becoming a father at 40.
The Social Factor also Counts
Many men who have fathered kids later in life talk about how older dads are not really accepted socially. Despite the trend of celebrities like Rod Stewart, Rupert Murdoch, and Paul McCartney having kids above the age of 60, kids are often embarrassed by their gray-haired dads accompanying them to school. This factor seems compounded especially when kids have to answer questions about whether their grandfather takes care of them. Older parents are constantly aware that they may not be around long enough to hold their grandkids. Or, that they aren’t energetic enough to bond with their kids over games, camping excursions, hikes, picnics, and other activities that their own fathers shared with them.
Becoming a Father at 40 Has its Positives
While scientists and researchers are talking about how men should have their kids at a young age, they also concede that many children do turn out fine after all. Kids with older parents have the advantage of a more robust financial base and a wider bank of experiences that they can dip into. Mature parents who have planned pregnancies are more patient and likely to overlook mischief readily as compared to younger parents. They may also appreciate parenthood more.
As for dipping energy and fertility levels, these issues are easily overcome by Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). As the experts at the BHRC, center for HRT for men explain, “Plant-based supplements can effectively reverse ebbing energy and other health issues in men such as lowered libido, weight gain, softer muscle mass and weakening bones, among others. HRT is a workable solution for men looking to becoming fathers at 40.”
Should you become a father at 40? Or, should you start a family at 30? Or, maybe, 25. The jury is still out, debating over the answers. Ultimately, this decision is all about personal choice. Choose a partner and have your kids the day you feel emotionally ready for them. Fatherhood is an amazing experience. You must enjoy every moment of it.
Since technology is nearly touching every aspect of our lives, check the following apps that can help you as a father.