Men…and the Not So Talked About Fertility Journey
Besides the basics, men and women have different needs and different types of pressures that society puts on them throughout life. Whereas women face the pressure to have kids earlier than they are usually ready to, the counterpart of our society, men, don’t face this same pressure. Although, according to a battery of studies, men should also have children when they are younger, as children will be healthier born to younger dads.
Today, more and more women are choosing to be childless (a little over 15% of women between the ages of 40-45 living childfree). And although it’s important to know what’s going on in the world when it comes to fertility, infertility and family building, the stats are mainly focused on women, which lends itself to the question, do we care about men and children? Is it unsafe or unhealthy for a man to have a baby later in life? Are men concerned about having kids or their fertility and whether they are going to have a family or not? Are they selfish for not having children, just as older society deems women are, at least perhaps according to previous generations?
Social norms and perspectives aside, the science points to the truth – men can have a much healthier child if they conceive with their baby-making partner during a healthy phase, when they are taking care of themselves, there are no infections or illnesses, there is less stress, and under the age of 35, when Advanced Paternal Age (APA) sets in. Despite the notion that men can be fulfilled with no family or children, and woman can only be fulfilled if they reproduce, society, gender and the environment are changing. Taking care of yourself before you conceive (preconception care) and considering having children at a younger age can greatly improve the health of your future child, throughout their entire life. Children born to men over the age of 35 are more likely to have mental health and developmental problems like schizophrenia or autism.
Today there is much less of a stigma these days around living life without having babies, and there’s a vibrant community for the child-free by choice. Also, more and more men are choosing to use donor egg and surrogacy to have children of their own when they are ready to be a dad – something that was not really considered even a decade ago. Since men are becoming more engaged in the discussion slowly but surely, and since their sperm needs to be in tip top shape to have healthy kids, perhaps the research on fertility and family building will grow to include men. Seeing as parenting responsibilities are now being covered by both men and women these days, just as the workforce involves more women now (or even more women in many states) it makes sense.
No matter what lifestyle you choose, or what chooses you, things are changing and there is more acceptance around how we live our lives, and this is a good thing.