Metabolic Health
Reviewed by

Shifa Fathima

Effect Of Diabetes on Fertility

Healthcare about diabetes can always be a tough task to navigate through. Diabetes is a condition that, in itself, can cause several issues to the body and overall well-being of a person. The mere fluctuations in the blood sugar levels can be severely distressing to various organs of the body. The highs and lows, especially if unmanageable, can cause damage to the kidneys, lungs, liver, heart, eyes, feet, etc. These complications can occur in association with diabetes. 

Several other aspects might run in the minds of people diagnosed with diabetes. It is almost like a never-ending struggle. One of the major aspects that need to be considered is fertility and pregnancy. It does not matter whether the diagnosis is T1D or T2D, diabetes is known to have some effect on the fertility rates in males and females and overall complications during pregnancy. The questions are not redundant – many endocrinologists and gynecologists are often asked questions like “can my wife get pregnant if I have diabetes?” Since fertility, sex drive, and pregnancy are important parts of a marriage and planning a family, these questions are often asked by young adults. 

Effects of Diabetes on Male & Female Fertility

Diabetes and infertility are linked. This could be one of the major reasons why there are several cases of complications during pregnancy or an inability to get pregnant. This condition is known to affect this dominant and major aspect of life as well in both men and women. The primary reason for this would be the massive hormonal disruption as a result of diabetes and related complications that can lead to either delayed implantation or a failed conception. In males, particularly, diabetes can also be associated with poor quality of sperm, low sperm count, etc. Overall, there is also poor quality of sperm and embryo along with some reports of damage in the DNA (such as genetic mutations or deletions)

In a person not diagnosed with diabetes, these complications are reduced as they do not have to deal with the irregular hormones and imbalances that occur as a result of diabetes. There are varying degrees and ways in which the question does diabetes affect fertility in females and males can be answered. Depending on the type of diabetes one has been diagnosed with, the duration since the onset of the condition, the management techniques, the overall HbA1c levels, and other factors like stress, weight, access to healthcare, etc, one can combat the complications that may arise during conception or pregnancy. In general, as compared to people who are not living with diabetes, the overall rate of risks like miscarriages, c-sections, still births, growth and developmental issues of the fetus, NICU admissions, etc increase. 

Diabetes and Female Infertility

The female fertility aspects would be important to understand to gain a proper and thorough answer to the question can diabetes cause infertility. Several studies around the area have shown the metabolic effects T1D and T2D may have on the hypothalamus-pituitary-ovary axis pathway and have brought to light the relationship between this chronic condition and disturbances in menstruation. Delayed menarche, menopause, consequences on fertility, changes in the menstrual cycle and flow, etc are observed and noted. 

Diabetes is known to affect fertility in females in several different ways. One could be when the female is diagnosed with the condition and the other possible way could be around the question “my husband is type 1 diabetes can I get pregnant”? Among females, diabetes can affect fertility in the following ways:

  1. Genitourinary infections – Women with diabetes are more susceptible to infection in their reproductive organs, particularly the fallopian tubes.
  2. Complications in pregnancy – Higher HbA1cs and glucose levels can cause defects in the pregnancy and the fetus. 
  3. Lower libido – Many women with diabetes report a lower sex drive due to different reasons like – fatigue, anxiety, lesser vaginal lubrication, etc.

Type 1 Diabetes can create the following effects:

  1. Disturbances in menarche and regularity of the menstrual cycle – There is a strong association between T1D and a longer cycle and longer menstruation period per month, 
  2. Anovulation – The chronic nature of this condition can lead to the absence of ovulation and can also lead to the higher rate of production of a gonadotropin-releasing hormone that decreases the level of luteinizing hormone that plays a role in reproduction. 
  3. Antisperm antibodies -Another major complication could be the production of antibodies that attack the sperm

Type 2 Diabetes can create the following effects:

  1. Obesity – Owing to the often-late onset of T2D, the age is close to menopause. However, lifestyle-related issues can give rise to another one – obesity and weight gain. 
  2. PCOS/ PCOD – This is a metabolic condition that stimulates higher production of androgens in the female body that can cause cysts on the ovaries. 
Book a Free Session

Diabetes and Male infertility

Can my wife get pregnant if I have diabetes is not an irrelevant question that may arise in the minds of a male who has been diagnosed to live with this difficult condition! Studies have shown a link between the risk of babies of fathers who have type 1 diabetes have an increased chance of developing type 1 diabetes. Since the rate of prediabetes and diabetes is now more prevalent in men than women, the concerns for fertility doctors and the focal point have shifted towards that sex.

Among males, diabetes can affect fertility in the following ways:

  1. Sexual dysfunction – The ability to maintain an erection in men decreases which leads to infertility
  2. Lower libido – In males, too, the lack of glucose can lead to a lower sex drive.

Type 1 Diabetes can create the following effects:

  1. Sperm DNA damage – There can be a certain amount of nuclear and mitochondrial DNA damage associated with T1D that can impair the reproductive ability of men

Type 2 Diabetes can create the following effects:

  1. Sperm quality – Not only the erections but also the quality of the sperm can be affected – poor semen concentration, and low sperm motility are noticed along with structural damage to the sperm and its DNA

Planning Pregnancy With Diabetes

Diabetes and fertility in males and females can create a special need to plan the pregnancy well by taking into account all the different aspects that could affect the health and well-being of all the people involved. Since there is an increased risk of complications at all stages from conception to delivery, proper care and medical consultations would be vital.

For females with any type of diabetes, here are a few things to follow:

  1. Visit your healthcare team and doctors
  2. Get the HbA1c levels under the recommended range
  3. Keep checking the blood sugar levels regularly.
  4. Take the required and recommended dosage of folic acid
  5. Do not skip the medication
  6. Have the other organs checked as well – eyes, foot, kidneys, etc.
  7. Have a healthy lifestyle in terms of habits, diet, exercise, sleep, stress management, etc

For males with any type of diabetes, here are a few things to follow:

  1. Understand and have the sperm count tested 
  2. Keep the HbA1c levels under control to be able to mitigate any complications associated with diabetes.
  3. Keep the overall blood sugars in check to avoid frequent lows and highs. 
  4. Visit the doctors regularly to avoid any missed complications 
  5. Be aware of all the options regarding pregnancy and conception
  6. Keep the body weight within the recommended range. 

Bottomline

Pregnancy can be the most-awaited aspect of one’s life. Do not let the diagnosis of diabetes reduce any joy associated with it after the addition of any complications. Be well informed of all the ways in which diabetes can affect the hormones, conception, and pregnancy thus mitigating any factors that could result in unnecessary hindrances. Follow the instructions given by the team of doctors that would be tailor-made to suit the needs of you and your family. 

FAQs

Can a man with diabetes have a healthy baby?

Yes, a male with diabetes can have a healthy baby. Even though there are increased chances of the baby receiving the gene for diabetes via the father, however, with the medical and technological advancements, it has become easier to identify the percentage of the chances of a healthy baby. 

Does diabetes affect sperm?

Yes, the diagnosis of diabetes does affect the sperm concentration, sperm count, and sperm motility in a male. This can result in some complications during conception and fertility. 

References

  • https://www.yashodahospitals.com/blog/diabetes-infertility-men-women/

Was this post helpful?

+91 -
Book Free Consultation