Men produce millions of new sperm every day. Sperm are as susceptible to the effects of aging as are any other cells in the human body. Sperm health is easily impacted by the toxins, xenohoromones, poor diet and lifestyle, stress and physical damage (overheating, testicular trauma, etc.) a man is exposed to throughout his lifetime; exposure that increases with age.
A brief explanation of sperm production…
Boys are not born with sperm cells like girls are born with ovum (egg cells). Sperm are produced in the seminiferous tubules within the testicles when a boy enters puberty and then daily throughout the rest of a man’s life.
Catherine Paddock, PhD explains, “Inside the seminiferous tubules, special stem cells called spermatogonia* generate sperm cells. A spermatogonium divides into two cells – one that eventually matures into a sperm cell, and the other is a new spermatogonium so the cycle can repeat itself… At each cell cycle, the DNA in the old spermatogonium is copied into the two new cells – the new spermatogonium and the cell destined to be a sperm cell. But every so often, a copy error – a mutation – arises in the DNA, which carries on in new generations of cells.”
Researchers in a recent 2016 study out of the University of Oxford, UK, name these sperm “selfish mutations”. “Thus, as a man ages, and his sperm production undergoes more cell cycles, his sperm contains an increasing proportion of cells with selfish mutations,” says Paddock. The possibility of having more sperm with genetic mutations means there is an increase in the potential for:
- male-factor infertility
- genetic mutations to be passed to offspring at conception (eg. those that cause Apert syndrome and Dwarfism)
It is important to know that some sperm mutations are known to cause genetic disorders, while others do not, but it appears these sperm mutations may grow faster than healthy sperm cells. Given that the chances of producing genetically defective sperm in greater numbers increase as a man ages, and that no man is immune to the effects of poor diet and lifestyle choices, each man actively trying to conceive should consider naturally supporting his sperm health.
We have compiled important research on the best natural treatment options for male fertility health in our Male Fertility Resources guide. The article, Male Aging & Fertility – 7 Nutritional Supplements to Consider focuses on the herbs and nutritional supplements for the aging man’s fertility health and may be of interest if you find yourself, husband or partner in that phase of life.
If you are interested in more specifics on the Oxford University study, there is more information here: Older fathers – finding the enemy inside their testicles.
This article, Older Men’s Sperm Raise Risk Of Genetic Problems In Offspring published in Medical News Today in 2006, may be of interest as well.
*A spermatogonia is “a cell produced at an early stage in the formation of spermatozoa” (sperm).
- Nordqvist, C. (2006, June 6) “Older Men’s Sperm Raise Risk Of Genetic Problems In Offspring.” Medical News Today. MediLexicon International. Web.
- Paddock, C. (2016, February 10). Genetics Men’s Health Fertility. As men age, their sperm contains more disease-causing mutations. Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/306331.php
- Spermatogonia – Google Search. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.google.com/search?q=spermatogonia