Almost everyone has a family member or a friend around them who is diabetic. But do we actually know what diabetes does? Not really, right? Diabetes has a lot of effects on the body, one of which – the not so popular one, is – infertility.
Diabetes affects the human body in a variety of ways, sometimes subsequently leading to concerning effects on fertility in both men and women. So, if you and your spouse are trying hard to get pregnant and have tried everything you can do, then it’s probably time to take a blood sugar test.
Recent studies reveal that there are growing numbers of Type 1 and 2 diabetes patients in today’s times. Moreover, these studies state a relation between infertility and diabetes in men and women. Men and women with diabetes may have a reduced likelihood of getting pregnant. Let us dive right in to know why that is the case and how one can navigate around it.
Diabetes and Fertility in Males:
Diabetes could be a reason behind infertility in males. However, having diabetes does not directly translate to infertility. Diabetes can however make you less fertile and it can happen in a few ways. Here’s a look at how diabetes affects fertility in males:
- Sexual Dysfunction: Diabetic men may be more prone to having certain sexual issues like retrograde ejaculation erectile dysfunction. Usually, men with diabetes are more likely to experience erectile dysfunction and may get it at an early age. The aforementioned sexual problems can often lead to losing interest in sex after a few attempts.
- Sperm Quality: Diabetic men have a lower sperm quality than non-diabetic men. A study suggested that the semen levels of diabetic men are nearly 25% lower than non-diabetic men. In a few cases, Diabetes can also cause structural sperm damage.
- Declined Libido: Glucose is the source of energy in the brain. When you lack glucose in certain areas of the brain, then it may lead to lower sexual drive, weakness or fatigue.
- Sperm DNA Damage: Diabetes is linked to increased mitochondrial, nuclear, and DNA damage which harms the reproduction ability of men.
All of these suggest that diabetes and fertility in men are connected, and it is problematic for a diabetic man to make his partner pregnant since the risk of deformities or miscarriage is higher in this case.
Does Type 1 diabetes affect male fertility?
Type 1 diabetes can have various repercussions for male fertility. These repercussions particularly revolve around a male’s sperm health. The condition is linked to heightened levels of nuclear, mitochondrial, and DNA damage within sperm. This increased damage raises concerns about the overall reproductive capacity of men who suffer from type 1 diabetes.
The aforementioned sperm DNA damage has the potential to impact fertility by compromising the overall genetic integrity that is generally required for successful conception.
Therefore individuals with type 1 diabetes should be mindful of these factors and must subsequently consider proactive measures that include maintaining optimal blood sugar levels and seeking medical advice to address potential implications for their reproductive health.
Does Type 2 diabetes affect male fertility?
Type 2 diabetes can have a significant impact on male fertility. Type 2 diabetes adversely affects various aspects of a man’s sperm quality thereby impacting his overall fertility.
Individuals with type 2 diabetes often experience an unusually diminished sperm concentration and motility subsequently impacting the overall chances of successful fertilization.
Additionally, structural damage to sperm and alterations in its DNA integrity are frequently observed in those with type 2 diabetes. These issues collectively contribute to compromised reproductive capabilities in men with this metabolic condition.
Effective management of type 2 diabetes, including lifestyle modifications and medical interventions, therefore becomes crucial not only for overall health but also to successfully mitigate the adverse impact on sperm quality and enhance the potential prospects of successful conception.
Diabetes and Fertility in Females:
Women with diabetes can get pregnant with blood sugar levels in control. Here’s how diabetes can impact fertility in women:
- Reduced Libido: Many diabetic women have reduced sexual desire as a result of fatigue, depression, and anxiety. Women may experience discomfort and pain during sex because of decreased vaginal lubrication.
- Anti-sperm Antibodies: The antibodies that get produced during diabetes attack the sperm and egg and prevent you from getting pregnant.
- Genitourinary Infections: Women with diabetes are vulnerable to infection and harm to reproductive organs, especially the fallopian tubes.
- Menstrual Problems: Diabetes can be linked to menstrual problems like longer periods, heavy bleeding, menstruation issues at a young age and a longer length of a cycle. Juvenile diabetes leads to delayed menarche.
- Anovulation: Anovulation is the lack of ovulation that usually occurs in a post-menarche or premenopausal woman. Anovulation can be caused by several factors, which include chronic mental illness, hormone imbalance, pituitary or ovarian failure, and diabetes. Diabetic women with low BMI will have irregular periods, causing reproductive problems.
- Pregnancy Complications: Lack of glucose control can make implantation of fertile eggs difficult. Even if implantation occurs, diabetes can cause genetic defects, large babies or miscarriage.
- PCOS: Type 2 diabetes is most common in postmenopausal women, but with modern dietary and lifestyle habits, obesity is on the rise, increasing the incidence of Type 2 diabetes during the fertile years. Obesity is linked to irregular menstrual cycles and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
PCOS is a hormonal disorder characterised by an abundance of male hormones, ovarian cysts, and irregular menstrual cycles or absence of ovulation. Insulin resistance affects between 50 and 70 percent of PCOS women. Lower levels of adiponectin in PCOS is a hormonal disorder characterised by an abundance of male hormones, ovarian cysts, and irregular menstrual cycles or absence of ovulation. Insulin resistance affects between 50 and 70 percent of PCOS women. Lower levels of adiponectin in PCOS women cause insulin resistance and fat breakdown. As a result, PCOS coexists with diabetes and obesity, posing a multi threat to fertility and reproductive health.
Does Type 1 Diabetes Affect Fertility in Women?
Menarche and Menstrual cycle patterns:
Yes, Type 1 diabetes can significantly impact female fertility. One notable effect for instance, is on menarche and menstrual cycle patterns. Here, individuals who have type 1 diabetes may experience disturbances that include longer cycle length (>31 days), prolonged menstruation (≥6 days), heavier menstrual flow among others.
Additionally, anovulation, characterized by the absence of ovulation when expected in a premenopausal woman, can occur due to factors like chronic mental illness, hormonal imbalances, pituitary or ovarian failure, or diabetes.
Production of anti-sperm antibodies
Another noteworthy impact is the production of anti-sperm antibodies in diabetes, which can potentially attack both sperm and eggs, posing an additional challenge to fertility.
Does Type 2 Diabetes Affect Fertility in Women?
While Type 2 diabetes is usually seen in older women, today’s lifestyles are causing more cases in women of childbearing age.
Obesity and Menstrual Health:
In a lot of cases, being overweight might lead to irregular periods and a condition called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), which subsequently affects hormones, ovaries, and menstrual cycles.
PCOS and Insulin Resistance:
Many women with PCOS tend to have trouble with insulin. Insulin is a hormone that controls blood sugar. This makes it harder for some women to break down fat and maintain a normal menstrual cycle.
Adiponectin and Insulin Sensitivity:
A hormone called adiponectin is supposed to help our bodies use insulin and manage weight. Women who have PCOS often have lower levels of this hormone thereby making it harder for them to use insulin and break down fat.
Triple Threat to Fertility:
When Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and PCOS team up, it becomes a significant challenge for fertility and reproductive health.
In conclusion, diabetes, conspicuously, can have significant effects on fertility. And these effects are not just limited to men but can also affect women. While for men, diabetes might lead to sexual dysfunction, lower sperm count and quality, a declined libido, and sperm DNA damage, women might face their own set of fertility-related challenges. The aforementioned set of issues can then subsequently contribute to difficulties in conceiving and an increased risk of deformities or miscarriage.
On the other hand, women who have diabetes may experience an unusually reduced sex drive, anti-sperm antibodies, genitourinary infections, menstrual problems, anovulation, pregnancy complications, and a higher risk of developing PCOS. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) which is often linked to Type 2 diabetes can also pose a multi-threat to fertility and reproductive health due to hormonal imbalances and insulin resistance.
Conceiving with diabetes is not easy, and you will need medical assistance. If you or your partner have diabetes and are facing trouble conceiving – book your appointment with Dr Manish Banker at Banker IVF. Dr Manish Banker is one of the most renowned fertility specialists in Ahmedabad who have helped 20000+ couples enjoy the joy of parenting.