Tick, tick, tock, goes the biological clock (or so they say)
25 Apr 2023
The so-called biological clock has been referenced in almost every soap opera and sitcom since the 70s. The concept of a biological clock is based on the idea that we all have a ticking clock inside of us, that we become increasingly aware of throughout our 20s and into our 30s.
Most of the examples we see reference women, haunted by the ever-increasing ferocity of the ticking within, as their age increases, fertility decreases and slowly wastes away before their eyes. But what about men?
The biological clock, or rather what it represents, is not something exclusive to women. Though men don’t necessarily experience the same societal pressures that women do – it’s much less common for men to be asked when they’re going to have kids – it does still happen. But how worried should we be about our fertility decreasing with age?
How relevant is our biological clock, and why do we put so much emphasis on it?
There is a large amount of evidence to support our obsession with our biological clock. Female fertility begins to decrease around the age of 35 while male fertility begins to decrease between 40 and 45. With this in mind, the concept of a biological clock is founded in some element of truth – our fertility decreases with time therefore there is a time limit on our ability to conceive.
Women are born with all of the eggs they’ll ever have (approximately 2 million) which will decrease to around 25,000 by the age of 37. Men continue to produce sperm daily, but after 45 both the quality and quantity of sperm produced will decline.
Our biological clocks are very real – even if we don’t all hear them ticking in our heads – but is all the emotional stress this concept causes worth it?
Do we need to worry?
As with most things in life, worrying about our biological clock is natural, but unhelpful. For those of us who are worried about not being ready for children by the time we hit 35 and our uterus begins to self-destruct, there are many options. Egg freezing and egg or sperm donation allow us to have children later in life, either by prolonging our fertility or using donated sperm or egg cells.
For those still unconvinced, allow us to provide a little comfort: everyone is different. Some have children early and some have them late, some use donors or surrogates, some adopt and some foster, some have children with a partner, some have them on their own and some don’t have children at all. There is no right path, only the right path for you.
While the biological clock is a very real thing, fertility is affected by so many factors other than age. Stressing about our biological clock is a waste of both our time and energy and the societal pressures to have children by a certain age only makes this harder for many.
We’ll leave you with something a clinical biologist told us:
“Biologically, you should have children in your teens and twenties. Emotionally, you should have them in your thirties and forties. But financially, you should have them in your fifties and sixties. So just have them when you want to.”