You may not choose to become a father at aged 77, but from a strictly biological perspective, it is within the realm of possibility. Most men produce sperm for their entire lives.
The male reproductive system is relatively simple; as a result, it generally functions quite efficiently. Sperm are produced in the testicles and stored within the scrotum in a "sack" called the epididymis. During erection, but before ejaculation occurs, the sperm travel from the epididymis to the vas deferens. The sperm is then propelled to the urethra where they mix with other fluids to form semen, which is ejaculated through the tip of the penis.
Certain medical conditions can interfere with the proper functioning of the reproductive process. They include:
The average male produces 40-300 million sperm per milliliter (mL) of semen. Low sperm counts are not considered a problem until they get as low as 20 million per mL, which is diagnosed as oligospermia. That may still sound like an enormous number, but statistics show that it is more difficult for couples to conceive at this level.
Conception is difficult at low sperm levels, because even at full count, only a fraction of sperm survive the difficult journey from the vagina through the uterus to the fallopian tubes, where conception takes place. The sperm must be strong swimmers. A man can have a low sperm count but still successfully conceive if his sperm have good motility.
Semen analysis can tell you the quantity and quality of your sperm. If your sperm count is critically low, a drug called clomiphene citrate, which stimulates testosterone production, can sometimes boost sperm creation.
One way to maintain healthy fertility is to adopt a fertility-friendly lifestyle. This can be done by avoiding smoking and alcohol. You can also increase your physical activity, eat right, and maintain a healthy weight.
The temperature of the testicles is one of the most significant factors in fertility. Testicles do not produce sperm well in hot environments. That is why nature, in its infinite wisdom, placed the testicles a few inches from the body. This keeps them cool.
Men who wear tight pants and/or tight briefs, regularly use saunas, jacuzzis, hot tubs, or whirlpools, or even take frequent hot baths, might have lower sperm counts. When you stop these activities or change to looser clothing, it may increase your sperm count.
Other factors that can adversely affect fertility include:
If you and your partner have been trying to conceive and are not having success, see your doctor.
American Urological Association Foundation
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Acute epididymitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated May 21, 2014. Accessed March 25, 2015.
Bener A, Al-Ansari AA, Zirie M, Al-Hamaq AO. Is male fertility associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus?
Int Urol Nephrol. 2009 Apr 21.
Fode M, Krogh-Jespersen S, Brackett NL, et al. Male sexual dysfunction and infertility associated with neurological disorders.
Asian J Androl. 2012;15(1):61-68.
Infertility in men. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated March 16, 2015. Accessed March 25, 2015.
Male infertility. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at:
http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/male-infertility.html. Updated March 2014. Accessed March 25, 2015.
Male infertility. Planned Parenthood website. Available at
http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/mens-sexual-health/male-infertility-22754.htm. Accessed March 25, 2015.
Male infertility. Urology Care Foundation website. Available at:
http://www.urologyhealth.org/urology/index.cfm?article=102. Updated July 2013. Accessed March 25, 2015.
Sallmén M, Sandler DP, Hoppin JA, Blair A, Baird DD. Reduced fertility among overweight and obese men.
Epidemiology. 2006 Sep.17(5):520-523.
The semen analysis. Resolve—National Infertility Association website. Available at: http://www.resolve.org/about-infertility/male-workup/the-semen-analysis.html. Accessed March 26, 2015.
Varicocele. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated December 18, 2014. Accessed March 25, 2015.
Last reviewed March 2015 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © EBSCO Publishing. All rights reserved.