table of contents
- At what age do men stop producing sperm?
- At what age are men most fertile?
- How does age affect sperm?
- Reasons for sperm decline
- How can men improve sperm count?
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Stories of men fathering children all the way into their 90s can make people believe that male fertility is everlasting.
While there is some truth to that, men also experience a decrease in fertility with age, though more gradually than female fertility rates. Do men have a biological clock when it comes to fertility? When do men stop producing sperm?
Let’s take a look at how age and other factors like illness affect male fertility and sperm health.
At what age do men stop producing sperm?
There is no set time period when a man’s sperm production stops. Women are born with all the eggs they will ever have. Men, on the other hand, are able to produce sperm cells for their entire lives.
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. We know this because there are many older fathers. Men over age 60 commonly have children.
The oldest father to naturally conceive was reported to be a 96-year-old man from India. Fathering a child after age 90 is rare (even for the record books), but it shows that it’s possible for older men to impregnate someone. That said, men still have biological clocks that cause sperm health and fertility to decline over time (Bhasin, 2022).
At what age are men most fertile?
The answer to this question varies depending on what parameters you look at. One study found that 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 (Levitas, 2007).
Another study showed that conception over a 12-month period was 30% less likely for men older than 40 compared to those 30 or younger. Other research found that men older than 45 took five times longer to conceive than those under age 25 (Harris, 2011).
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. Aging can increase the number of abnormalities in sperm.
The numbers can vary quite a bit, but here’s what one research review found when comparing sperm health in men aged 50 or older to men 30 or younger (Kidd, 2001; Bhasin, 2022):
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 (Bhasin, 2022).
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 (Bisht, 2017).
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. Your healthcare provider can explain the effects of any drugs you may be taking (Ding, 2016).
How can men improve sperm count?
If you’ve been trying to conceive without success, it’s best to check in with a fertility specialist, especially if age is a concern.
One of the first steps in determining what’s affecting male fertility is a semen analysis. This is used to analyze sperm and semen quality. A healthcare provider will advise you if further testing is needed. They can also diagnose and treat any illnesses or infections you have that could affect healthy sperm.
In some cases, a medical procedure like a varicocele repair or addressing a hormonal problem can improve sperm count. There are general lifestyle approaches you can take to boost your sperm count as well including (Emokpae, 2021; Liu, 2017):
- Eat a healthy diet (and limit unhealthy fats and sugars)
- Get regular exercise
- Make room for quality sleep (sleep helps sperm production)
- Reduce stress
Sexual and reproductive health Last updated: Apr 11, 2022 5 min read
Toxins and heat are known to damage sperm. If you’re trying to have a baby it’s best to avoid the following (Emokpae, 2021):
- Recreational drugs
- Too much alcohol
- Anabolic steroids or testosterone therapy (anything that reduces testosterone production)
- Heat (hot tubs, laptops, tight underwear)
- Pesticides, heavy metals, toxins, and pollution (Pizzol, 2020; Robb, 2022)
Every year, millions of men over the age of 40 will experience fatherhood. Most have normal sperm, can conceive naturally, and will be part of a healthy pregnancy.
Still, it helps to talk with your healthcare provider about any concerns, especially if you’ve been trying unsuccessfully to have a baby for more than a year. There are many options to help men of all ages.
- Bhasin, S. (2022). Age-related changes in the male reproductive system. Endotext. Retrieved May 4, 2022 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK278998/
- Bisht, S., Faiq, M., Tolahunase, M., & Dada, R. (2017). Oxidative stress and male infertility. Nature Reviews Urology, 14(8), 470–485. doi:10.1038/nrurol.2017.69. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28508879/
- Chianese, R. & Pierantoni, R. (2021). Mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) production alters sperm quality. Antioxidants, 10(1), 92. doi:10.3390/antiox10010092. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7827812/
- Ding, J., Shang, X., Zhang, Z., et al. (2016). FDA-approved medications that impair human spermatogenesis. Oncotarget, 8(6), 10714–10725. doi:10.18632/oncotarget.12956. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5354694/
- Emokpae, M. A. & Brown, S. I. (2021). Effects of lifestyle factors on fertility: Practical recommendations for modification. Reproduction and Fertility, 2(1). doi:10.1530/raf-20-0046. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8812443/
- Halpern, J. A. & Brannigan, R. E. (2021). Sperm DNA fragmentation and pregnancy outcomes—the jury is still out. F&S Reports, 2(3), 265. doi:10.1016/j.xfre.2021.07.002. Retrieved from https://www.fertstertreports.org/article/S2666-3341(21)00080-5/fulltext
- Harris, I. D., Fronczak, C., Roth, L., & Meacham, R. B. (2011). Fertility and the aging male. Reviews in Urology, 13(4), e184–e190. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3253726/
- Kidd, S. A., Eskenazi, B., & Wyrobek, A. J. (2001). Effects of male age on semen quality and fertility: a review of the literature. Fertility and Sterility, 75(2), 237–248. doi:10.1016/s0015-0282(00)01679-4. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11172821/
- Leslie, S. (2022). Male Infertility. StatPearls. Retrieved May 4, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK562258/
- Levitas, E., Lunenfeld, E., Weisz, N., et al. (2007). Relationship between age and semen parameters in men with normal sperm concentration: Analysis of 6022 semen samples. Andrologia, 39(2), 45–50. doi:10.1111/j.1439-0272.2007.00761.x. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17430422/
- Liu, M. M., Liu, L., Chen, L., et al. (2017). Sleep deprivation and late bedtime impair sperm health through increasing antisperm antibody production: A prospective study of 981 healthy men. Medical Science Monitor, 23, 1842–1848. doi:10.12659/msm.900101. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5402839/#:~:text=Lack%20of%20sleeping%20time%20may,necessarily%20produce%20higher%2Dquality%20sleep
- Pizzol, D., Foresta, C., Garolla, A., et al. (2020). Pollutants and sperm quality: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 28(4), 4095–4103. doi:10.1007/s11356-020-11589-z. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33196997/
- Robb, E. & Baker, M. (2022). Organophosphate toxicity. StatPearls. Retrieved May 4, 2022 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470430/
Felix Gussone, MD
Felix Gussone is a physician, health journalist and a Manager, Medical Content & Education at Ro.
At what age is a man's sperm no longer fertile? ›
However, sperm concentration and the proportion of sperm of normal morphology declined after the age of 40. Sperm motility fell after the age of 43 and ejaculate volume after 45.Does a 70 year old man produce sperm? ›
Many people think that while a woman's fertility starts to decline in her 30s and 40s, men can continue to conceive children naturally in their 70s and 80s. However, while sperm production continues throughout a man's life, the quality and concentration of the sperm may start to decline.What is the latest age to produce sperm? ›
Age and sperm
Most men make millions of new sperm every day, but men older than 40 have fewer healthy sperm than younger men. The amount of semen (the fluid that contains sperm) and sperm motility (ability to move towards an egg) decrease continually between the ages of 20 and 80.
In short, yes (Harris 2019, NICE 2013). Although most men are able to have children well into their 50s and beyond, it becomes gradually more difficult after the age of 40 . There are many reasons for this, including: Sperm quality tends to decrease with age.Can a 60 year old man impregnate a woman? ›
In this Article. There's no maximum age that stops a man from being able to have a baby. You can become a father long into your older years, but there are risks.Can an 80 year old man produce sperm? ›
Men, on the other hand, constantly produce new sperm and some men past the age of 80 occasionally father children. That fuels the myth that men remain fertile all of their lives and can parent children as long as they can perform sexually.How often should a man release sperm? ›
There is no specific frequency with which a man should ejaculate. There is no solid evidence that failure to ejaculate causes health problems. However, ejaculating frequently can reduce the man's risk of getting prostate cancer. Ejacu-lation can be through having sex or masturbating a few times a day.Can an 85 year old man produce sperm? ›
The amount of capsular tissue increases in the testis with advancing years. There is very limited data about men in extreme old age (80 yr and older). Of older men who produce spermatozoa in their ejaculates, sperm motility, a manifestation of viability and fertilizing capacity, tends to be reduced.How do you know if a man is fertile? ›
Tests for Infertility in Men
Because most causes of male infertility are related to sperm, the first test a urological health care provider will perform is a sperm count and analysis. Too low of a sperm count, misshapen sperm, and “lazy” or less-active-than-normal sperm can all lead to fertility issues.
The website of the world record authority Guinness World Records lists the oldest father ever as Australian Les Colley (1898-1998), who allegedly fathered his ninth child at age 92 with a Fijian woman he met through a dating agency.
Is 49 too old to be a dad? ›
Am I too old? While certain risks may rise with age, men continue to produce sperm throughout their lives and can father healthy children into old age.Are older men still fertile? ›
Pregnancy rates decrease with paternal age. Men will generally see a 52% decrease in fertility rate between their early 30s and their mid-to-late 30s. Time to conception. Compared to men 25 years or younger, men 45 years or older are 12.5 times more likely to take over two years to conceive.What position is best for wife pregnant? ›
Sexual positions that allow for deep penetration are likely to be the best for conception as they allow the sperm to be deposited as close to the cervix as possible. The missionary position is often recommended for this reason.How many times a man can release the sperm in a day? ›
How many times can a man ejaculate in a day? Some men can ejaculate more times during the day than others. Younger men tend to ejaculate more often than their older counterparts. Some men can ejaculate (or come) once or twice a day, whereas some guys can do it four or five times.What does it mean if your sperm thick? ›
Thick semen usually results from a higher than normal concentration of sperm in a typical volume of semen, or from having a high number of sperm with an irregular shape (morphology). High sperm concentration often indicates that you're more likely to impregnate a female partner.What kills sperm count? ›
Overexposure to certain environmental elements such as heat, toxins and chemicals can reduce sperm production or sperm function. Specific causes include: Industrial chemicals. Extended exposure to certain chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, organic solvents and painting materials may contribute to low sperm counts.What makes a man most fertile? ›
Fertility is most likely if the semen discharged in a single ejaculation (ejaculate) contains at least 15 million sperm per milliliter. Too little sperm in an ejaculation might make it more difficult to get pregnant because there are fewer candidates available to fertilize the egg. Movement.How old can a man make a baby? ›
Unlike women, who are born with a finite number of eggs, men continue to produce sperm throughout their life, and some can father children into their 60s and beyond — an age where women's clocks have totally stopped ticking. George Lucas, Steve Martin and Rod Stewart all famously fathered children in their late 60s.What age is best to have baby? ›
Your fertility naturally declines as you get older, which could make it harder for you to conceive. And starting a family later in life could pose greater risks for pregnancy complications. Experts say the best time to get pregnant is between your late 20s and early 30s.What is the oldest dad to have a baby? ›
Raghav became the world's oldest father at age 94 when his first child was born in 2010. He broke his own record in 2012 when at the age of 96 he had another son. Julio Iglesias Sr. Ecclestone is the former head of Formula One motor racing; he previously had children in 1955, 1984, and 1988.
How many men become fathers after 50? ›
While fewer than 1 percent of first-time fathers are over 50, there are benefits to being a later-in-life father. Dr Paul Turek, a men's health and fertility urologist, says that men who have children at an older age tend to live longer.What age should men have kids? ›
However, the number and quality of the sperm declines with your age. From a biological standpoint, experts recommend a man is best suited to fatherhood from his late 20s to early 30s. It is still possible for men to father a child in their 50s and older.How old is average dad? ›
|Year||Mean age||Mean age, high school degree|
While fewer than 1 percent of first-time fathers are over 50, there are benefits to being a later-in-life father. Dr Paul Turek, a men's health and fertility urologist, says that men who have children at an older age tend to live longer.Can men reproduce at 45? ›
Pregnancy rates decrease with paternal age. Men will generally see a 52% decrease in fertility rate between their early 30s and their mid-to-late 30s. Time to conception. Compared to men 25 years or younger, men 45 years or older are 12.5 times more likely to take over two years to conceive.Can you impregnate a woman in menopause? ›
Once a woman has reached menopause, her FSH and LH levels stay high, and her progesterone and estrogen levels are low. Women in this life period are not ovulating anymore, and they cannot get pregnant. So, can you get pregnant in menopause? No, you can't.Can you date a 50-year-old man? ›
Let a mature man show you the characteristics that matter most to him. He may not be initially very open with his affections, but he could be your ideal match. Dating a 50-year-old man, with his life experience and insight, can be a wonderful experience. Keep an open mind and see where it takes you.What is the best age for a man to have his first child? ›
The age where a man is most fertile is between the ages of 22 and 25 years. It is suggested that you attempt to have children before the age of 35. After this age, men's fertility begins to worsen with age.Is 40 too late to be a father? ›
Absolutely. So my advice for other would-be, could-be or soon-to-be fathers is as follows….. Regardless of your age, if you and your partner both feel ready (or almost ready) then don't wait.Are men still fertile at 47? ›
In general, fertility starts to decline for men when they're in their late 40s, with up to a 23% annual decline in fertility beginning at age 39. One study suggested that conceiving during a 12-month period was 30% less likely for men who were over the age of 40 compared to men who were under 30 years old.
What are the 3 stages of menopause? ›
- Perimenopause is the time leading up to menopause. ...
- Menopause occurs when you've stopped producing the hormones that cause your menstrual period and have gone without a period for 12 months in a row.
If you have sex without using contraception, you can conceive (get pregnant) at any time during your menstrual cycle, even during or just after your period. You can also get pregnant if you have never had a period before, during your first period, or after the first time you have sex.What are the 1st signs of menopause? ›
- changes in mood - such as low mood or irritability.
- changes in skin conditions, including dryness or increase in oiliness and onset of adult acne.
- difficulty sleeping – this may make you feel tired and irritable during the day.
- discomfort during sex.
- feelings of loss of self.
Couples with an age gap of 1 to 3 years (with the man older than the woman) were the most common and had the greatest levels of satisfaction. Relationship satisfaction decreased slightly for couples with age gaps of 4 to 6 years and continued to decrease for couples with an age gap of 7 or more years.How often do 50 year old married couples make love? ›
31 percent of couples have sex several times a week; 28 percent of couples have sex a couple of times a month; and 8 percent of couples have sex once a month. Sadly — or so we thought — 33 percent of respondents said they rarely or never have sex.What attracts a younger woman to an older man? ›
The most common reasons young women like older guys
While there is no hard science around this, the most common reasons women seem to like older men are: They've played the field and are ready to settle down in a long-term relationship. They offer emotional maturity. They have financial security.