Diabetes and Fertility: How Diabetes Can Affect Your Fertility

Diabetes and Fertility: How Diabetes Can Affect Your Fertility

If you have been trying with no luck to get pregnant and have not been able to a find a reason for your infertility, it may be time to have a simple blood test to determine if your glucose levels are too high.

With the rates of Type II diabetes rising every year in the U.S., more and more infertility specialists are looking toward this health issue as a main cause of some otherwise unexplained infertility cases they see.

According to the American Diabetes Association, there are more than 200,000 new cases of Type II diabetes diagnosed every year, with another 2.4% of the general childbearing population suffering from the disease but not knowing it.

When it comes to diabetes and infertility the answer is clear: there is a connection. No, in many cases (especially among women), diabetes alone does not keep them from getting pregnant, but it oftentimes keeps them from staying pregnant. In many cases, say fertility doctors, “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.” In this case, the diabetes isn’t preventing conception, but is preventing an ongoing pregnancy. High glucose levels are reported to increase a woman’s chances of miscarriage by 30-60% according to statistics released by the American Diabetes Association.

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

When Glucose Levels Are Too High

In addition to keeping an embryo from implanting, glucose levels that are too high can also affect hormone levels throughout the body including the all-important estrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels needed for a pregnancy to occur. That is why glucose control is so vital to your fertility.

Types of Diabetes

Most people know how dangerous Type I diabetes can be. In most cases this type of diabetes actually destroys the insulin producing cells in the body, making it necessary to supplement insulin through daily injections. When it comes to diabetes and pregnancy, this is the most dangerous type of diabetes to have for both mother and child.

Type II diabetes, or an inability of the body to produce enough insulin to keep up with glucose levels in the bloodstream, is the most common type of diabetes now experienced in the U.S., and can often be controlled with dietary changes and an increase in exercise. (Do a search for Dr. Gabriel Cousins who has actually cured diabetes through diet changes). Although wrought with its own negative effects, Type II diabetes can be controlled and side effects limited, making a pregnancy safer.

Controlling Your Diabetes

When it comes to controlling their diabetes in order to attain a healthy pregnancy, most doctors urge women to plan ahead for a pregnancy by doing the following:

  • Get their weight to a normal level (the more obese you are, the harder it will be to control your glucose levels)
  • Get your A1C levels below 6.5 before attempting to get pregnant
  • Controlling your daily sugar levels for 3-6 months (the longer the better) to give your body the chance to prepare for a pregnancy

Diabetes in Men

Men too can experience infertility issues due to high glucose levels. For some retrograde ejaculation, where semen backs up into the bladder, making it impossible to get to the woman’s reproductive organs, becomes a problem, as does erectile dysfunction caused by both the diabetes itself as well as medications which may be used to control it.

Still, there is one, more dangerous reproductive side effect to diabetes in men: DNA damage. According to research released y Dr. Ishola Agbaje of the Reproductive Research Group at Queen’s University in Belfast, diabetes can and does cause serious DNA damage to sperm which can inhibit a pregnancy, live birth and even healthy, normal fetus. Among the results of the study include that:

  • Diabetic men have much lower semen levels (just 2.6 compared to 3.3 ml in their non-diabetic counterparts).
  • The nuclear DNA in diabetic man’s sperm cells was more (52 per cent versus 32 per cent).
  • There were more deletions in the mitochondrial DNA of diabetic men’s sperm cells than those of the non-diabetic men.
  • The mitochondrial DNA deletions in the diabetic men’s sperm cells ranged from 3 to 6 and averaged 4, while for the non-diabetic men it ranged from 1 to 4 and averaged 3.

What does all this mean? Simply put, a diabetic man who does not control his glucose levels has less of a chance of impregnating his partner and when he does the risk of miscarriage and deformities are much higher.

Should Diabetic Partners Try and Conceive At All?

All of this may leave diabetic partners wondering if it is even safe to try and get pregnant at all. 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. The key to success, of course, is working with your endocrinologist and obstetrician to ensure that your glucose levels remain stable moths before trying to conceive as well as during a pregnancy. With a good plan and dedication to eating right and staying healthy, your chances of giving birth are very high, despite a diabetes diagnosis.

References:

1. American Diabetes Association
2. www.mayoclinic.org
3. Human Reproductive Journal
4. Reproductive Medicine Research group (Queen’s University, Belfast)
5. Report by: Dr. Ishola Agbaje (2007)

Comments

Let your voice be heard... Leave a brief comment or question related to this article.

Current day month ye@r *

 characters available

[-] 23 Comments
  1. sir, i am a 22 year old boy .i am affected with diabetes from the age of 16 . i want to know whether i can get child or not after my marriage .what are things to care more to live for more years and to get childs,please help me .
    yours faithfully
    safeer

    • Elizabeth Willett, MA, CH

      Dear Safeer,

      Thank you for reaching out to us! It is wonderful that you are educating yourself and working to get this under control at a young age.

      This article will offer great insight on what to speak with your healthcare provider about and how you might naturally support your body.

      Best wishes!

  2. Hello, I would like to subscribe for this
    weblog to take most recent updates, therefore where can i do it please help.

  3. Update 2014 – We are back! We have been away for a while and we sure have missed all of your wonderful questions and thoughts on our articles. Moving forward, one of our staff herbalists will be here to respond to comments! We look forward to connecting with our readers once again!

  4. I,m type 2 male patient can i have children

    • I am not sure if you will be able to conceive based on only knowing you are a type 2 diabetic. I just don’t have enough information. If you are concerned how your health care issues may be impacting your ability to conceive, you may want to talk to your doctor about this.

  5. I have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes recently i am 31 year old
    male can i get married and have normal childre.?

  6. hi
    i have type 1 diabetis with my sugars averging about 10-14 which i know is not good. i have recently got my girlfriend pregnant and am worried this may have an affect on our baby?
    Could you give me any advice? thanks Kyle

  7. Hi
    My husband have bee type 2 diabetic since about 1 year with a A1c reading of around 7 or 8 – can we try for 2nd baby

  8. Hi me and my spouse are wanting a baby I can have kids buy I’m a type 2 n he has been sniped for years and I’m just wondering what are chances are and if the cost is reasonable thanks

  9. I’m a Diabetic man with type 1 my girlfriend had our baby, but he was very large did she get Gestational Diabetes due to my having it? I have one other thing her mom is a type 2 Diabetic and my girlfriend is a little overweight not a lot. The baby needed to be taken to a children’s hospital near where I live to they are checking his heart and said they were looking at his breathing too.

    • Hi Mike,

      You having diabetes had nothing to do with your wife developing gestational diabetes. She had 2 risk factors for gestational diabetes, being overweight and a family history of type 2 diabetes. She now has those risk factors plus 1; she had a large baby. So now she is at higher risk for developing gestational diabetes with her next pregnancy. This can be controlled through diet changes. Please have her talk to her doctor about the best diet changes for her situation.

      Congratulations on your new baby!

      Dalene

  10. i m 24yr old and type II diabetic due to excessive use of codeine and alprazolam my wife 22 is completely healthy can we get a healthy baby since i came to know i m diabetic i left all intoxicates but having anti depressants plz help?

    • Hi Sam xavior,

      As long as you keep your diabetes under control and your antidepressants are not affecting your fertility, there should be no reason you cannot go on to have a healthy baby.

      Best Wishes,

      Dalene

  11. Hi There

    My partner is type 1 diabetic with a A1c reading of around 8 or 9 – If we were lucky to conveice could this high reading affect the babys chance of surving?

    thanks

  12. I’m a 35 year old male and have been type II diabetic for about 10 years. I recently got married and we are wanting to try to start a family. I believe I have retrograde ejaculation. For about a year I’ve been having issues where either I have dry orgasm or when I do have ejaculation it doesn’t shoot out like I am used to seeing. Is there a way to reverse this?

    Thank you.

    • Hi David,

      Diabetes can cause retrograde ejaculation due to nerve damage. One way you can tell that retrograde ejaculation is happening, is if your urine is cloudy. Instead of the semen exiting as it should, it is then passed to the bladder and exits during urination. Honestly I have never had to treat anyone for this condition, so I cannot say what may be best for you to do. It would be a good idea, if you are interested in natural methods of healing, to find a naturopathic physician in your area. A medical doctor can also help you to determine what the exact problem may be and perhaps suggest some supportive ideas. Surgery or some medications may be suggested. You will want to consider supporting your sperm health in the mean time. This is because over time, as the semen is not exiting properly, it may damage sperm health. Our men’s fertility guide has some great tips!

      Best Wishes,

      Dalene

  13. My husband, 32 is type 1 diabetic and I am 41. We have a six year old girl who has congenial heart complication. Himself and his family doubted his condition, I pushed him one day to see a doctor, and unfortunately we found out that he has been dragging on with this condition without any treatment by his age 31. Now, my daughter’s congenial heart condition me concerned, thinking about the cause. Both sides, me or my husband have no family history of a baby born with a heart problem. It do not want to blame or be mad at my husband or anything, but I wish to put an end to my pain that has been lingering back in my mind all along. Is it his damaged DNA?, his treatment began just last year. Please, help me to bring peace to me.

    • Hi Minaclaire,

      I am sorry to hear of your difficult situation. Whenever there is something that causes us pain or difficulty, it is natural to want to “blame” someone or something for the cause. Honestly your daughter has a heart condition, you cannot go back in time and change that. You are wasting your love and energy on worry, doubt, resentment and fear of the “what if”. There is no way to know right now if your husband’s diabetes contributed to your daughters heart condition or not. At this point all you can do is commit to supporting your loved ones as best you can, loving them to no end. Dwelling on what could have been or what if, does not bring about healing. Take what you have learned and go from here, to make better decisions for your future. Give your husband and daughter a big hug!

      Best Wishes,

      Dalene

  14. I am diabetic and I don’ have any children but I am trying my best to keep my blood sugar at a normal level.However, I am not having a easy time with it and I am so easily depress. I am on insulin for the past 3 yrs and I was hoping that I would have gotten pregnant already but no such luck.

    • Hi Sheron,

      I am sorry to hear of your health issues. You may want to talk to a nutritionist in your area to help you make a diet plan, changing your diet may greatly help your chances of a successful pregnancy.

      Keep your head up!

      Dalene