There are challenges diabetics face in getting a partner pregnant, becoming pregnant, maintaining a pregnancy and ensuring they give birth to a healthy, full-term baby. Diabetes (Type 1 or Type 2) can harm sperm. Type 2 diabetes can make it far more difficult to become pregnant. There’s an increased rate of miscarriage among diabetics in general, and women with Type 1 diabetes are somewhat more likely to have a baby with a birth defect or a child born prematurely. However, all of these challenges can largely be managed by being attentive to and responding to signals from the body.
How does diabetes affect male fertility?
Men with diabetes have a higher chance of developing sexual and reproductive health problems which can be any or all of the below :
- Causes erectile dysfunction-by affecting the health of small blood vessels and lowering testosterone levels
- Lowers sex drive-by lowering testosterone levels
- Reduces ejaculate volume-by affecting the small nerves that control ejaculation and by lowering testosterone levels
How does diabetes affect female fertility?
There is somewhat of a relationship between diabetes and fertility. Young women with diabetes, either type 1 or type 2, tend, on average, to start their periods a little bit later in life than women without diabetes.
Then, on the other end of the spectrum, women with diabetes tend to go through menopause slightly earlier, so this provides a slightly smaller window of fertility for women with diabetes. In addition, many women with type 2 diabetes have an underlying syndrome called ‘polycystic ovarian syndrome.’ We call it ‘PCOS.’
PCOS is associated with insulin resistance, which is a major player in type 2 diabetes, and so that’s why there’s a relationship between these two issues. Because of the effects of PCOS on the ovaries, women with type 2 diabetes and PCOS may find a harder time with conception than women without diabetes.
Diabetes alone does not keep women from getting pregnant, but it oftentimes keeps them from staying pregnant. A woman with higher than normal glucose levels does get pregnant month after month. Unfortunately her diabetes status prevents that embryo from implanting in the uterus, causing a miscarriage before she ever realizes she is pregnant.
Even when implantation does occur, there are other risks to consider, including:
- An increased risk of birth defects due to damage caused to embryonic cells form the high levels of glucose in the blood
- a larger baby resulting in a c-section, which increases a mother’s chances of infection
- An increased risk of gestational diabetes in the mother, which can cause other health concerns for both mother and baby
While it is important to understand the risks involved in high glucose levels and fertility, it is also important to understand that simply controlling your glucose levels, and getting (and keeping them) at a more normal level will reduce these risks and offer the opportunity for a safe pregnancy resulting in a healthy baby.
We, at Shukan Hospital, along with our experts provide a wide array of tests and a holistic approach for diabetes linked with infertility to maximize the couple’s fertility potential and allow for successful conception.