Freezing sperm might sound like a very cold day rather than family planning. But as more men begin to plan ahead, freezing sperm is becoming more popular.
In the past couples would marry in their early 20s and become parents nearly straight away. The rhyme of ‘first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby’s carriage’ is very familiar. We probably all know people from our parents’ and grandparents’ generations who did exactly that.
Life is now more complex. For women, there are more options available than just becoming a housewife once you’re married. Historically, women chose to stay home and look after their children while men went out to work.
Now though a lot more women are pursuing careers alongside having a family. While men might think this doesn’t really affect them, in reality it often does.
The Biological Clock
Since more women want to build a career equal to their husbands, some actively decide to marry later or to have kids at a later stage. While most men think that they can produce kids into their 70s the reality is rather different. There is a ‘biological clock’ on everyones’ fertility with a notable drop for women after 35 and for men from 40-45.
Because women want to wait and establish their careers, baby-making is pushed back later. Although the ‘biological clock’ concept is widely known in relation to women, now more recognition is being given to the fact that age does affect male fertility. Yet IVF is usually thought of as something that only really affects women.
Couples prioritise getting onto the property ladder first before they marry. Given there’s less pressure to be married before living together, a lot of couples cohabit first. Saving up for a deposit or mortgage on a house can be a costly business. Which forces some couples to put off having kids until they’re more established.
This all sounds pretty fair and sensible but there is an undeniable impact on fertility if you wait.
Fertility vs Age
As a man you probably don’t give too much thought about having kids. Unless you’re in a relationship where you and your girlfriend are planning ahead. It’s easy to think that there won’t be any issues when you’re a young guy with a good libido and decent health.
Yet in truth, male fertility is responsible 50% of the time for difficulty in conceiving. It shouldn’t be a surprise given it takes two to tango! But while women usually are more aware of potential fertility issues when it comes to their general health and age, men don’t seem to be.
Generally it’s thought that male fertility begins to decline from the age of 40. Though some men have been known to father children in their 70s, it’s usually uncommon. Mainly because older men marry women of a similar age who has gone through the menopause and can’t conceive. However where age gap relationships are concerned, becoming a dad later in life is common.
Why you should plan ahead
When you’re young and single you may not think about having kids. Or just take the line that you’ll have a family in the future but don’t need to worry about it now. It’s reasonable, why worry about something that might be years away? You can always try natural ways of increasing your sperm count, but sometimes you should be planning things ahead.
In the same way that women often put their eggs on ice for future use, more men are starting to do the same with their swim team. Freezing sperm is one of the safest ways to ensure that you will have sperm available in the future if you start a family later in life.
While some men conceive without any issue in their 40s and even 50s, typically it can take around 2 years longer for a couple to conceive when the man is older. This is due to motility and quantity of sperm diminishing as you get older even without any issues with erectile dysfunction.
Assuming all is well with your girlfriend/wife, you still need to deliver. Freezing sperm when you’re young and healthy allows you to save your best boys for a rainy day.
It might be that you never need to use them but on the off chance that you do encounter difficulty later on, it doesn’t hurt to be safe rather than sorry. Also you can always become a sperm donor to help someone else achieve their dreams of having a family.
When should you actually be freezing sperm?
The key question when freezing sperm is when you should actually do it. Men produce millions of new sperm daily which is available on demand when you ejaculate. Whereas women have a limited number of eggs in their ovaries which are released throughout their life until they reach the menopause.
Male fertility increases around the age of 25 and begins to decline rapidly from 40-45 years. If you freeze your sperm you should aim to do so sooner rather than later. To give yourself the best chances, it’s sensible to monitor your overall health and diet.
Fertility can be negatively impacted by alcohol, smoking and drug abuse. While the use of steroids and certain medications can also reduce your swim team. You may not be aware that activities such as cycling and going into the sauna too regularly can also damage your sperm.
Wearing proper underwear normally and good protective support for your testes is also key. As overheating literally fries your sperm cells and can reduce your potency.
Other impacts on your health
You’ll be glad to know that erectile dysfunction doesn’t impact on your fertility directly. Although it might make it more difficult to have sex and you could need help, it shouldn’t cause damage to your actual sperm count. So you can still find ways of freezing sperm even if you don’t become erect as easily as you might like.
If you have a family history of cancer, it is sensible to consider freezing sperm. If you get cancer, you should also think about it even if you’re not sure if you’ll want kids in the future. Life changes and relationships can evolve, being able to keep swimmers on ice may prove fruitful.
By freezing sperm before you begin chemotherapy, you protect your chance to have a child later. Conceiving naturally can be difficult if you undergo chemotherapy or targeted radiotherapy which affects your testes.