April 25, 2019

Fertility Cliff: Is It Real?

by Science Vs

Background show artwork for Science Vs

We’re often told to have kids quickly, before our biological clock strikes and we fall off the fertility cliff. This week we find out if that’s true for women or men. And if the cliff is real, can you do anything about it, like freezing your eggs? Plus, the sperm-aggedon! We speak to epidemiologist Prof. Lauren Wise, reproductive endocrinologist Dr. Mary Sabatini, and andrologist Prof. Allan Pacey.

UPDATE 7/10/19: A previous version of this episode incorrectly identified the nationality of a character in Indiana Jones. The episode has been updated accordingly.

Check out the full transcript here: http://bit.ly/35DfLE8

Selected references: 

  •  Lauren’s two studies looking at the fertility cliff. Click here if you want to be in one of her studies! 
  •  Two studies looking at success rates of freezing eggs at different ages
  •  Review of the effect of paternal aging on the health of the offspring
  • The 2017 meta-analysis which shows the drop in sperm counts in several parts of the world


This episode was produced by Meryl Horn, with help from Wendy Zukerman, as well as Rose Rimler and Michelle Dang. Our senior producer is Kaitlyn Sawrey. We’re edited by Blythe Terrell. Fact checking by Diane Kelley. Editing help from Caitlin Kenney. Mix and sound design by Peter Leonard. Music by Peter Leonard, Emma Munger and Bobby Lord. Recording assistance from Mary Dooe and Andy Short. A huge thanks to all the scientists we got in touch with for this episode, including Dr. Richard Lea, Dr. Hagai Levine, Professor Jens Peter Ellekilde Bond, and others. And special thanks to everyone at Gimlet who listened to the episode, the Zukerman family, and Joseph Lavelle Wilson. And a huge thanks to Christopher Suter.