Fertility: Is Age a Factor?

Fertility - Is Age A Factor

We use Advanced AI to translate our blog content. If the translation isn’t perfect, or if you have any queries about the content, our medical team is readily available to answer. Simply email [email protected]

Age and fertility – is it something we should all be concerned about?

The truth is that whilst women are constantly reminded of how their fertility declines with age, the same can be said for men too. The other scary part is that age is one thing we can’t stop, reverse or control. Other lifestyle factors can be addressed to improve fertility – from quitting smoking to eating healthier foods – but we sadly can’t stop the clock and go back to being 25.

More and more of us are waiting until we are older to even think about kids – and that’s ok! But when it comes to age, it’s useful to understand the facts so you can make informed decisions about when to start a family – and understand the risks and your options if you do decide to try for a baby later in life.

Age and Fertility for women

 Age is one of the biggest (and most annoying) factors impacting women’s chances of conceiving and having a healthy pregnancy. Several scientific papers show that a woman’s fertility starts to decline when she is in her early 30s, with the decline speeding up after 35. This can impact natural conception, but it also has a bearing on the success of assisted fertility treatments too.

The below figure (from NHS statistics) clearly illustrates the association between age and IVF birth rate. The higher the age, the lower the chances of bringing home a healthy baby.

Age and fertility for women

This decline in fertility is because women are born with a finite number of eggs. This number of eggs declines over time, each time they ovulate (which is usually once a month) and the quality of these eggs declines too. When egg quality declines it not only makes it harder to fertilise the eggs – but these eggs can also have genetic damage, which can lead to miscarriage.

Women also have a final cut off point of fertility – the menopause. This is when periods and ovulation stop completely and it’s no longer possible to become pregnant.

All of these statistics are why women are constantly reminded about their ticking biological clock. However, men are not completely off the hook when it comes to age and fertility!

Age and fertility for Men 

When we see rock stars in their 70s becoming dads, it’s easy to tell ourselves that age and male fertility don’t matter, but that’s not generally the case. It’s true that men continue to produce sperm throughout their lives – but that doesn’t mean that sperm is of the best quality.

Male fertility doesn’t drop off as dramatically as female fertility, but it definitely declines (albeit slowly) with age. In general, scientific papers show that a decline in semen parameters appears to be mild with male aging – but this still affects time to pregnancy. But what’s exactly going on down there?

Age and sperm quality  

As men age, their balls tend to get smaller and softer, resulting in a decline in sperm quality and production. These changes are partly because of an age-related decrease in testosterone levels, which plays a very important role in sperm production. But it’s not just the rate of production that’s impacted by age. As men get older they are at risk of increased sperm DNA fragmentation, worsened morphology (shape) and motility (movement). All of these can make it harder for a sperm to fertilise an egg, and DNA Fragmentation has also been linked to an increased risk of miscarriage.

Studies also indicate that there could be a higher risk of birth defects like autism, and some diseases like cancer and schizophrenia when men have children later in life. This is mainly due to an increased amount of DNA mutations with age, but also (to some extent) to the higher DNA fragmentation rate.

What to do if you are concerned about age and fertility?  

Firstly, whatever your age it’s always a good idea to get your sperm tested – but if you are over 35 it could be even more helpful. Our at-home sperm test can give you an accurate idea of how many healthy sperm cells you have (total motile sperm count, which is the best indicator of fertility) and we will be able to advise you on the next steps if the results aren’t what you expected.

If you and your partner are both over 35 and have been trying to get pregnant for more than 6 months, we would definitely recommend going to see a fertility specialist to discuss your options. They may recommend further testing, including a DNA fragmentation test and discuss assisted fertility treatments with you in more detail.

Want to get proactive with your fertility journey? Learn more about our home sperm test here.

ExSeed home sperm test kit 2 test
ExSeed Home Sperm Test Kit (2 tests)


Refill Kit Monthly Subscription

£24.99 / month

ExSeed Combi


More to explore

Our products

ExSeed home sperm test kit 2 test
ExSeed Home Sperm Test Kit (2 tests)


ExSeed Refill Kit (5 tests)


ExSeed Combi


Wearing tight pants and underwear

Studies show that men who wear looser underwear have higher sperm concentration and total sperm count compared to men who wear tighter underwear. So, lose the tight clothes and wear something loose to give your testicles some air.

CONCLUSION: learn more about how heat can affect sperm quality here.


Besides higher mortality rate and various diseases, stress is associated with low sperm quality. Stress is known to be associated with lower testosterone levels and oxidative stress with both playing an essential role in producing and maintaining healthy sperm cells.

CONCLUSION: If you feel stressed, we recommend you get some help so you can have a balanced mental health. For a stress management guide, download the ExSeed app for free and start your personalized action plan today.

Physical activity

Scientific studies show that men who are physically active have better semen parameters than men who are inactive. Fertility specialists also state that regular physical activity has beneficial impact on sperm fertility parameters and such a lifestyle can enhance the fertility status of men.

Prioritizing exercise can help improve your overall health and result in healthy, fast swimming sperm cells that have good chances of fertilizing an egg.

CONCLUSION: Try incorporating exercise in your weekly schedule to you ensure exercising at least twice weekly. We recommend a combination of cardio training and strength exercise. Read more about exercise and male fertility on our blog.


Fast Food
Processed foods damage the health of sperm-producing cells and cause oxidative stress, which lead to poorer sperm quality. Heavy consumption of junk food (every week) can increase the likelihood of infertility since men who consume vast amounts of unhealthy food are at risk of having poor sperm quality. Besides harming your fertility, junk food enlarges your waistline, harms your cardiovascular system, kidneys, and more.

Eating more fruit and vegetables can increase your sperm concentration and motility. It’s important that you consume a healthy diet filled with antioxidants and that you eat vegetables every day. Foods such as apricots and red bell peppers are high in vitamin A, which improves male fertility by nurturing healthier sperm. Men who are deficient in this vitamin tend to have slow and sluggish sperm.

Sugary snacks/beverages: several times a week Excessive consumption of high sugar items can lead to oxidative stress, which negatively impacts testosterone levels and sperm motility. Sugary snacks and beverages are also highly associated with obesity and low fertility.
CONCLUSION: To boost sperm quality, stay away from fast food, processed food, and sugary snacks or beverages. You need to implement a healthy prudent diet filled with necessary superfoods needed for good sperm production. Check out our guide to Male Fertility Superfoods. For personalized guidance and support on how you can start improving your sperm health, check out the Bootcamp.


Direct heat can inhibit optimal sperm production and cause Sperm DNA damage. Sperm cells like environments that are a couple of degrees lower than body temperature. Avoid overheating from warm blankets, seat warmers, heat from your laptop, hot showers, and saunas.

Cigarette smoking

The exposure to tobacco smoke has significant negative effects on semen quality. The damage of cigarettes and nicotine of course depends on how many cigarettes you smoke per day and for how long, but even low usage (up to 10 cigarettes / day) can inhibit healthy sperm production.  

CONCLUSION: Stay as far away from cigarette smoking as possible if you care about your general health and your fertility. Read more here.

Cell phone

When you have your cell phone in your front pocket, your testicles are exposed to electromagnetic radiation, which studies have shown to damage the sperm cells. Put your phone in the back pocket of your pants or in your jacket pocket.


There is a clear association between obesity and reduced sperm quality. At least part of the reason for this is that obese men may have abnormal reproductive hormonal profiles, which can impair sperm production and lead to infertility. 

A BMI higher than 30 can lead to several processes in the body (overheating, increase in oxidative stress in the testes, sperm DNA damage, erectile dysfunction) that can have a negative impact on male fertility. This can result in problems when trying to conceive.  

CONCLUSION: BMI is one of the risk factors that influence semen quality and, for example, sperm motility.  


A beer or glass of wine now and then do not really harm sperm quality. But excess alcohol drinking (more than 20 units per week) can reduce the production of normally formed sperm needed for a successful pregnancy.

CONCLUSION: If you want to stay safe, stay under 14 units of alcohol per week. For more information on how alcohol can affect male fertility, take a look at our blog: “Alcohol and Sperm Quality”.


Studies show that women younger than 35 and men younger than 40 have a better chance of getting pregnant. Men can produce sperm cells almost through their entire life, but the sperm cell DNA is more fragile and prone to damage after the age of 40.

As men age, their testes tend to get smaller and softer resulting in a decline in sperm quality and production. These changes are partly because of an age-related decrease in testosterone level, which plays a very important role in sperm

production. Higher male age (>40 years) is not only associated with a decline in sperm production but also with increased sperm DNA fragmentation and worsened morphology (shape) and motility (movement). These negative effects make the sperm cells less qualified for egg fertilization.

CONCLUSION: with an age under 40, you shouldn’t have to worry much about age as a factor in itself. However, studies have shown a slow decline after the age of 30-35 years

and if you are above 40 years of age, your sperm quality can be affected due to increased sperm DNA damage resulting in a decrease of sperm motility and concentration. Remember that you cannot evaluate the quality of a sperm sample by just looking at it – this requires a sperm analysis.