Let’s Be Real About George Clooney’s Pregnancy
When the world found out that George Clooney, age 55, was going to be a father of twins, the internet literally swooned. Matt Damon almost started crying. My phone blew up with questions about whether I thought they did IVF or not.
When Janet Jackson’s pregnancy news became public, the internet exploded but in a different way. Everyone was extremely focused on her age. Several articles were written about the dangers of pregnancy in women at 50. I was even quoted in articles and on news shows about her age too.
Do you see where I’m going with this? Why is the world silent about George Clooney’s age? We had no problem labeling 50-year-old Janet Jackson as “old.” And then even before Janet Jackson had her baby, we learned about two other older male mega stars with pregnancy news and a delivery: Jay Z at the age of 47 is expecting twins with his 35-year-old wife Beyoncé, and Mick Jagger age 73 just had a baby with his 29-year-old girlfriend.
It’s awesome that celebrities are sharing their IVF stories but fertility doctors should take advantage of this huge opportunity and educate the public about the risks of advanced paternal age too. We should teach the public about pregnancy risks in older fathers in light of the recent celebrity pregnancies in the same way we educated people about risks in older mothers with Janet Jackson’s pregnancy.
Here’s the real deal:
- While an older man may still be able to conceive, the risk of complications, such as miscarriages and birth defects goes up significantly. Many men assume that previous paternity means current fertility but that’s a huge myth.
- Children from older fathers also have a higher rate of autism, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, ADD, ADHD and depression.
- Extremely rare genetic imprinting disorders like Angelman Syndrome and Beckwith–Wiedemann syndrome are also linked to older fathers
Here’s what you can do to understand YOUR personal risk:
- Do a semen analysis. This test can teach you about the speed of your swimmers but it doesn’t tell you anything about your sperm DNA. It is the first place to start. You can even do it from home.
- Do a sperm fertility gene test. There is a test called Seed that can help you understand what’s going on in your sperm DNA. Understanding the genetic abnormalities before you try to conceive will give you vital information you will need to make a decision about your personal path to pregnancy. The Seed fertility test is something every older father-to-be should take. It test looks deeper than a semen analysis to provide insights into sperm function. It can uncover potential problems with like make infertility and poor embryo development, even when sperm counts look normal even before you try to conceive. This means that an otherwise healthy older man with good sperm counts could still have fertility problems hiding in his DNA. There’s no time to waste for an older couple on the journey to parenthood.
- See a male fertility expert like Dr. Paul Turek aka “the Sperm Whisperer.” A fertility minded urologist can analyze the “sperm data” and guide you about your options including sperm aspiration, PICSI and donor sperm.
My goal for every patient is to uncover potential problems upfront rather than wait for problems to be revealed by unsuccessful fertility treatments.
Women are used to being blamed for everything. When we can’t get pregnant we blame ourselves. When IVF isn’t successful, it’s because of bad eggs. Science is guiding us better now. It doesn’t just take one sperm cell to make a healthy pregnancy. It takes a good sperm cell with healthy DNA to make a healthy baby.
Here’s what you can do to be proactive:
- Freeze sperm! Women lose 90% of their eggs by age 30. Egg freezing is hard. Since we know sperm DNA matters and older age affects sperm DNA, do a sperm freeze while you’re young.
- If you needed fertility treatment to get pregnant for baby #1, I hope that you won’t for baby #2 but freeze sperm in case you will need more IUIs or IVF cycles to grow your family. And if your partner is pregnant after IUI , freeze a vial because you may need to do IUI again for baby number two. If you did IVF and you don’t have embryos frozen also freeze sperm for the same reason.
- To give yourself your highest chance of success as an older father, take great care of yourself. Avoid diseases like diabetes, hypertension, and obesity by living your best life ever. Avoid binge drinking, heavy marijuana use and “sperm killers” aka cigarettes. Your sperm health is a peak into your overall general health. It seems like risks for men go up over age 35 but the risk is clearly there for men over 50.
The best thing George Clooney’s pregnancy will do is raise awareness about the risks of being an older father. Just because Mick jagger did it at age 73 doesn’t mean it’s right for you. Learn about your DNA to make sure you are taking the right path to pregnancy. And If you aren’t a father yet or planning another one later put some sperm on ice!