Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Question Of Sperm

No, it's not my idea for a new quiz show, although I do see potential there. Mystery guests, what happened next, yes I reckon it could work if applied to the world of pornography rather than sport.

Someone said to me the other day that they often marvel at how good looking many kids are when they are born to older fathers. She was talking about a fellow of about 70 who has a child of about 3 or 4. It's not a phenomenon that I've paid much attention to but it did get me thinking.

Sperm, does it mature with age? And of course I'm not thinking along the cheese and wine principle here. More about whether the sperm of a man of 20 would be the same as that same fellow's sperm when he's 70, in terms of DNA and its general makeup. Is it possible that the sperm carries a fellow's experience in some way, the experience that the chap has garnered over his years.

Of course it's unlikely and I could have googled it and got definitive answers within 0.004 seconds, but I thought it's much more interesting to chuck it out into the blogosphere and see who our sperm experts are and what they think.

So what do you reckon?

Is sperm like cheese? Does it get better with age?


Jane Doe said...

Scientifically I don't think it's possible but maybe it's just because our technology is too primitive to understand whether or not sperm can mature over the years. Because theoretically, nothing is impossible; if it is, that means that science hasn't found a way around it yet.

p.s. - I hate not knowing an answer so I sometimes have opt to come up with crazy reasons.

Darwin said...

Yes. Age affects the motility of sperm and thus the chances of successfully fathering a child decreases with age. With regard to effects at the DNA level, age has an effect on DNA damage, chromatin integrity, gene mutations and chromosome abnormalities.

So in short, the sperm of a 20 y/o man is not the same as it will be when he is 70 y/o.

Anonymous said...

Well, the kids you are talking may belong to the tall, handsome, stallion of a man next door. Who knows. Better check the fatherhood of the kids with a DNA test before jumping into conclusions.

Anonymous said...

I think you might have a point there. Older men who are married to younger women have better looking kids. And since most older men who marry younger women are filthy rich, the kids' future is semi-guaranteed too.

Hmm... Maybe I should marry in around twenty years time...

Half Doctor said...

Well if your going to wait 40-50 years to father a child on the half-chance that he/she may turn out a tunner; my aren't you in for a very rude surprise when your 'apparatus' goes into retirement as you get older!

Then again as an afterthought,
Medicine like Sildenafil- Viagra, Levitra must have been invented for people just like that!

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Darwin - I'm aware about the effects of age on sperm and the chances of succesfully fathering a child, but do you mean that age can "deteriorate" the goodness of sperm so to speak, or could there be a glimmer of truth in old men, were they able to successfully get it up, fathering more attractive kids?

PBG - You can probably guess who said it to me!

Darwin said...

No. The 'quality' at the DNA level decreases with age. Chromosome abnormalities come into play, so various genetic diseases are at increased risk. For example there is a strong correlation between achondroplasia and age of the sperm. Interestingly there isn't a similar correlation between Down's Syndrome and age of sperm (whereas in the case of women, the older the egg, the higher the chances of Down's). Damage also happens at the DNA level so individual genes have a higher chance of carrying mutations.

Think of DNA as a photocopy being made from a photocopy. The more rounds of replication there are, the more the quality decreases when compared with the 'original' copy. So with each round of cell division, despite there being millions of quality control checks against DNA damage in the cell, sometimes a 'bad' thing can get through.

I don't think there is any truth to older men fathering attractive children. Coincidence perhaps, or maybe an attractive postman/gardner!

Darwin said...

Also, getting it up doesn't necessarily mean the boys can swim as well as they used to! Sadly Viagra can't fix the tails on the little buggers.

Sam said...

The whole question is not so scientific. Isn’t it? “Good look” do not come from “sperm” alone, and matter of fact not entirely from DNA either.

If the bugger is 70 and still he is able to make a baby with a 30 year old, He must be one handsome man. I have seen only very few 70 year old men with young girls – and Hugh Hefner been one of them – those girls are hot! So I guarantee, if Hugh Hefner had a kid with one of those girls, he/she going to be one good looking bastard. Well, if even the guy is not so good looking and the girl too, still all that money they have can make any kid very good looking.

Ian Selvarajah said...

Wow, reading Darwin's comments has made this post MUCH more educational than I had initially anticipated!!

Anonymous said...

pablo picasso- had gorgeous kids in his 70's. as did charlie chaplin.

maybe you have cute kids if you
1. can get it up at that age
2. you are creative
3. you are famous
4. you are rich
5. you are lucky
6. there is a correlation between 1 and 5

Dinidu de Alwis said...

He he... I should've guessed... :) She DID have a thing for older men though... :) Explains you... :P