Hey millennial man, your sperm has a message for you: You’re not getting any younger, bud, so don’t let me wither away in these soon-to-be old, crusty testes for too long.
It’s true: In 2014, a study of 2.6 million children from the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Indiana University found that older fathers’ children were found to be significantly more at risk for a host of psychiatric disorders. When the fathers were 45 and older, their children were three times more likely to have an autism spectrum disorder, 13 times more likely to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and 25 times more likely to have bipolar disorder than the children of fathers 20 to 24.
Until relatively recently, it was generally believed that it was only women who even had a biological clock (in the medical world, the term “geriatric pregnancy” is used to describe any pregnancy that occurs after the woman is over the age of 35). While there’s plenty of evidence that does show that pregnancy becomes more complicated after a woman turns 40, far less is known about how crappy a man’s sperm may become as he gets older. Awareness is spreading, however: Luciano Nardo, a consultant gynecologist at the Reproductive Health Group in Cheshire, told The Daily Mail last year that sperm issues accounted for around five percent of all problems with couples he saw in 2014, but now represents 30 percent.
This is why Nardo thinks more men should start freezing their sperm. “In our society it is acceptable for women to freeze their eggs — but I think the idea that men should freeze their sperm should become more prevalent, too,” Nardo told The Daily Mail. “Due to social changes, men are increasingly leaving it later to have children, so I would suggest anyone choosing to delay fatherhood should freeze their sperm before the age of 25.”
People are listening to such advice. “I’m not getting any younger,” William Hudson, a then 30-year-old producer told CNN back in 2016 in an article about men who are fighting the biological clock by icing their sperm. “I banked my sperm because I wanted to have the option of using younger sperm later in life.”
Now, if you’re a dude who’s at least considering freezing your sperm, you should know that it’s not cheap: According to the The Sperm Bank of California’s website, the minimum cost of a first appointment — which includes setting up an account and storing at least two ejaculates (just in case) — is $1,100 to $1,300. You then have to spend another $250 to $450 every subsequent year to maintain the storage of your frozen sperm. But to put that in perspective, according to this Time article, for women, a single cycle of egg freezing can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $8,000. “To get a viable number of eggs, some women need to undergo multiple rounds, paying double, or even triple, that price,” reports Time. Additionally, women have to inject daily hormones into their abdomen for at least a week prior to the procedure.
So is it worth the cost? Board-certified urologist Jamin Brahmbhatt remains unconvinced, saying that the majority of men can continue to have children well beyond women of an equivalent age. “This is because men make viable sperm their whole lives,” says Brahmbhatt. “However, women are limited based on a set number of eggs that they’re born with.”
Brahmbhatt agrees that, as men get older, they’ll experience a natural drop in testosterone, as well as sperm quality and quantity. “However, the majority of men utilize their sperm when they’re in their prime, which is a wide range,” he insists. “To justify all men freeze their sperm as of today hasn’t been backed by research.”
When I ask him about just how wide a range he’s talking about, he tells me that it’s hard to say. “I have men in their 60s having kids,” says Brahmbhatt. “And men in their 20s having trouble.” That’s why he only recommends men freeze their sperm if they’re about to undergo cancer treatment. “Men may also freeze their sperm in preparation for artificial fertilization,” he adds.
So really, it’s up to you to decide. Are you the sort of guy who’s willing to roll the dice on your geriatric breaststrokers, or are you the sort of guy who has $1,000 to spend on freezing those suckers while they’re in their Phelpsian prime?