Dear Asian community – It’s time to discuss the F-word

Let’s be honest my friends, many in our community will think nothing of a 45 year old man pursuing and, in some cases, successfully capturing the attention of a 22 year old woman. The lucky suitor will be applauded, receive an encouraging ‘mashallah beta’ pat on the back from ammi and be lavished with ‘atta boy’ high-fives from his cohort of aging chums.

As a voluntary matchmaker, I have met countless single Asian men in their late 30s/mid 40s who will unashamedly ask me to recommend a 25 year old woman. Somehow, this never fails to surprise me, despite it now becoming a fairly “standard” request. Now, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but although these older blokes have taken the trouble of acquiring a wardrobe worthy of the GQ front cover, hired a personal trainer to hone their drooping moobs and taken out shares in ‘Just for Men’, they frequently fail to bag said 20 something year old lovely of their dreams. Even the world’s most eligible silver fox George Clooney eventually married an ‘older’ woman in the form of the delectable, successful and formidably intelligent 36 year old Amal Alamuddin. Yep, the smart man chose the smart lady.

I wanted to fully understand why some older men are so obsessed with younger women. I decided to explore some psychological and biological theories and after some digging around I found that this penchant for the 20-something year old woman is not simply a case of ‘Creepy Old Man Syndrome’ but instead all down to the F-word. No, not that one. But rather, f-f-f-fertility.

Apparently, the pursuit of a younger woman is a deep seated subconscious urge that evolution has wired into the male psyche. Ladies, I apologise on their behalf because they simply can’t help themselves. Rationale though tells them that relationships should be based on love and companionship and not solely procreation. So whilst thinking with their testicles instead of their degree educated brains, they actively hunt out women who glow with the signifiers of ripe ovaries (facial symmetry and youthful bloom being significant ones) in favour of more important but less visual attributes that form the basis of a healthy marriage.

I have spoken before about the undeniable fact that Mother Nature is not a feminist and we know only too well that fertility declines dramatically after the age of 37. However, far too many men wrongly assume ‘older’ women simplycan’t safely have children. So, because we women have not heard enough of our biological clocks already, please allow me to remind you all of some basic facts that you may find pleasantly surprising.

Fact 1: The probability of a 19-26 year old becoming pregnant after 2 years of sexual intercourse without using contraception is 98% and in the older age group of 35-39 year olds, the probability is 90% [1]. Pretty good odds don’t you think?

Fact 2: The sensitive issue of Down syndrome: there is 0.07% chance that a 20 year old pregnant woman will give birth to a child with Down syndrome. This increases to 0.1% in a thirty year old woman and increases again to 1% in a 40 year old woman.[2]Just to make it crystal clear that’s 99% chance that a 40 year old woman will NOT give birth to a child with Down syndrome.

Fact 3: The number of live births to mothers over 40 has tripled over the last 3 decades. [3] This is partly due to social factors such as increased participation in higher education, delayed marriage and partnership formation, establishing a career, ensuring financial stability before starting a family etc. The good news is that advances in fertility treatments now mean that some women who are unable to conceive naturally, are now able to have healthy pregnancies and babies.

Fact 4: Studies have shown that children born to women over 40 tend to be healthier and brighter than those born to younger women. [4]

With my medical doctor hat on, I regularly read clinical papers on the decline in female fertility. However, for those of you not acquainted with him I’d like to introduce you to the less talked about ‘Father Nature’. He’s been lurking around since the dawn of man yet no one really seems particularly interested in him. Perhaps it’s because good old Father Nature isn’t particularly pro-Men, or much of a “Menist” either. It seems that some men wander the world blighted with a misplaced sense of Peter Pan-ism when it comes to their own ability to ‘get the ball in the net’. Many blithely consider themselves untouched by the aging process and are, for the most part, completely oblivious to the effect that Father Nature has on their sperm production. So ladies, let me arm you with some facts so that next time a man decides to come along and throw the F-word at you, grab it by the balls (pun fully intended) and kick it right back!

Fact 1: 30% of all cases of infertility in the UK are down to ‘male factor’ problems and a further 25% are completely ‘unexplained’ (no identified male or female cause).[5]

Fact 2: The volume, motility (ability to move toward its destination, an awaiting egg), and structure of sperm all decline with age. [6]

Fact 3: The older the male partner, the more likely a pregnant woman is to miscarry regardless of how young or healthy she is. [7]

Fact 4: Children born to older men are more likely to have autism (x6 in men >40 years old compared to men <30 years according to one study) [8], schizophrenia [9] and bipolar disorder. [10]

Fact 5: The incidence of Down syndrome is also influenced by father’s age and not exclusively related to maternal age.[11]

Fact 6: With regards to sperm donation: current professional guidelines state that sperm should not be taken from men aged 41 years and over [12].

So, there you have it. The spousal search is full of enough complexities as it is and women have definitely drawn the short straw when it comes to cultural prejudices. My previous letter was urging younger women to try a little harder when searching for ‘the one’, but that’s not to say women in their 30s should be shunned. Despite it being 2015, there is huge stigma attached to being a single Asian woman in her 30s yet the same aspersions do not apply to men. A woman is ‘blamed’ for being too independent, too focussed on her career, too fussy and most of all – too sub-fertile!

On the other hand, older men are praised for their professional successes, maturity and financial independence. Factors which place them pretty close to the top of the rishta ladder. Yet no one dares question THEIR fertility.

Men, most of you are intelligent and progressive thinkers. Educate yourselves and those around you. Read these facts aloud (ideally within ear shot of your mum), assimilate them so that you are as familiar with a prospective female’s fertility as well as your own. Only then can we put an end to this archaic mentality that continues to fuel this ‘ageist’ fire.

Ladies, in light of these fertility facts perhaps it’s time to shift the cultural stigma by and focussing your search on a younger millennial man! We all know too well that fertility declines with age but rest assured your ‘biological clock’ is not about to strike 12 just because you’ve finished blowing out the candles on your 33rd birthday cake!

Kind regards,

Farah Kausar

Voluntary Matchmaker and GP

References:

  1. https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg156/resources/guidance-fertility-pdf accessed on 9th Sept 2015.
  2. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/screening-amniocentesis-downs-syndrome.aspx#closeaccessed on 14th Sept 2015.
  3. http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/vsob1/birth-summary-tables–england-and-wales/2013/stb-births-in-england-and-wales-2013.html#tab-Live-Births-by-Age-of-Motheraccessed on 14th Sept 2015.
  4. BMJ. 2012 Aug 21;345:e5116. The health and development of children born to older mothers in the United Kingdom: observational study using longitudinal cohort data. Sutcliffe AG et al
  5. https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg156/resources/guidance-fertility-pdf Accessed on 9thSept 2015
  6. Hum Reprod Update. 2004 Jul-Aug;10(4):327-39. Epub 2004 Jun 10. Reproductive functions of the ageing male. Kühnert B1, Nieschlag E.
  7. Obstet Gynecol. 2006 Aug;108(2):369-77. Paternal age and spontaneous abortion. Kleinhaus K et al
  8. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2006 Sep;63(9):1026-32. Advancing paternal age and autism.Reichenberg A et al
  9. Schizophr Res. 2010 Feb;116(2-3):191-5. Epub 2009 Nov 17. Later paternal age and sex differences in schizophrenia symptoms.
  10. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2008 Sep;65(9):1034-40. Advancing paternal age and bipolar disorder.Frans EM1,
  11. J Urol. 2003 Jun;169(6):2275-8. The influence of paternal age on down syndrome. Fisch H et al
  12. http://www.hfea.gov.uk/sperm-donation-eligibility.html, accessed on 10th Sept 2015.
20 days ago

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South African Match! #muzmatchsuccess

My name is Halima and I'm from Gauteng, South Africa and my husband (Arshad) is from Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa; we are both South African Indians.

He liked my profile on muzmatch on the 8th of April 2018 and on the 9th we started chatting and Alhamdulillah, today we are husband and wife.

We did our Nikah last month (March 9th 2019).

About a month before I joined muzmatch I remember speaking to my mother in the kitchen as we cooked supper and she had full confidence that I'd be getting married soon.

I told her that I felt that maybe I'm just not meant to get married and be happy, taking into consideration that I personally felt like one could never find a decent man whose intention is to make Nikah in this day and age.

My Moulana had recommended that I join Nikah/Muslim match-making groups and muzmatch populated amongst my searches, so I downloaded the app and registered. After a while I had lost hope so I deleted the app from my phone but did not deactivate my profile.

It was a Monday morning, I had woken up to get ready for work,

I checked my phone and I had an email notification from muzmatch which read "Arshad likes you".

I was quite surprised; I looked at his profile and his biography was quite captivating but it seemed so surreal - this was too good to be true.

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We started chatting that very morning and there was an instant click. It felt like we were long lost friends because of how well we understood each other and could complete each others sentences. We had the same interests and the same intention; we could speak for hours on end without running out of things to say.

We had realized that we are most definitely soulmates.

Within 2 weeks he called my parents to ask for my hand in marriage. In July 2018 (21st), I booked a flight to visit him and his mum for the day and after spending time together we knew that this was the right decision and that Allah SWT had created us for each other.

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We then saw each other once again in August 2018 (25th - A surprise for my 21st birthday planned by him and my mum); and again in November 2018 when he flew up to attend my younger sister's wedding with his mum, younger sister and brother-in-law.

Slowly the long distance had become difficult, our younger sisters were both already married and settled and we started wondering when would we actually get married. In February this year he decided to relocate to Gauteng and found a temporary job.

His dad visited my parents and they decided to set a Nikah date, Alhamdulillah once the date was set everything fell into place by the will of Allah. He found a job as a PC Engineering lecturer and we were able to find our own place with our parents help and support.

Today I am happily married, living my dream with my husband and I have wonderful in-laws that love me as much as they love Arshad.

The most important quality I wanted in a husband was someone that could take my family as his own and Alhamdulillah I found that in Arshad.

We are now a huge happy family Alhamdulillah.

Jazak'Allah muzmatch! Arshad has found me due to the creation of this wonderful app (He always says that he found me, not the other way around).

I would advise everyone to put their trust and faith in Allah SWT, never give up hope that Allah SWT will send the one who is meant for you when the time is right - for Allah is the greatest of planners. May all the other individuals find their spouses through this app as well Insha'Allah.

Halima & Arshad

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I have a daughter who is 12 years old, and I was searching for a real Muslim man who would be a good husband and father. Finally I found Taymoor, who is a good man and a good Muslim, he is very kind.

I am telling my friends that I found someone who really looks like me from the inside.  He was divorced and also has a kid, who is 5 years old. When we first chatted on muzmatch we spoke for over 6 hours, he was surprised much we got on, he even thought that this was a prank!

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After we met I told my family and friends, and he did too. He and his family visited us and we got married in only two months, I never imagined that I would find my soulmate and marry him that fast.

I always wanted to find a man to trust and love, after being a single mom for years, I found out that my dream man was hard to find, but alhamdullah I found him on your app.  

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It didn't even take me long to find my husband. I used the app for almost one month or less.

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2 days ago

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My name is Sara and I just wanted to thank muzmatch and let you know that I finally got engaged on 24th December 2018 and found my Fiance - Ghazunfar on the App.  

We are really happy Alhamdulilah and just wanted to thank you for creating a platform for Muslims to find a suitable match for marriage!    

I believe it's a real blessing because initially we matched but we didn't talk as he hadn't read my messages and was not appearing online. After around 4 weeks, I unmatched however after some weeks I logged in and I came across his profile again. After some giving it some thought I decided to rematch and give it a try again.

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Our families are very happy and we are looking forward to entering into the blessed union of marriage Insha'Allah. We just wanted to say keep up the good work, may Allah bless you and request that you keep us in prayers.  

One last thing to everyone using the  muzmatch App - please do not give up, there is someone out there for us all!  

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