Have you tried every medicine and test for your infertility issues but with no results? It’s time to check if you are diabetic.
Yes, it is true that diabetes in both men and women can influence the fertility. The rate of diabetes in India is increasing at an alarming rate that the International Diabetes Federation has stated that 79.4 million people in is expected to have diabetes by the year 2030. Diabetes is caused due to irregularities associated with the level of insulin in the body. As the problems with insulin increases, it also further aggravates the issues of infertility.
Diabetes and Infertility
Diabetes is a chronic disease. Usually, blood glucose levels are controlled by insulin which is a hormone produced by the pancreas. When we eat food, the blood glucose level rises after which the insulin is released to decrease the glucose level. Essentially, diabetes is caused when the pancreas does not produce sufficient insulin to the body or when the insulin produced isn’t being properly absorbed by the cells of the body. Either way, it elevates the blood glucose level in the body.
When the glucose levels are too high,
- It can affect hormone levels in the body including the essential estrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels which are needed for a pregnancy to occur.
- It causes also prevent conceiving or ongoing pregnancy leading to miscarriages.
Dr. Arundhati Waldakar, an Ayurveda Doctor, when asked about the reasons for diabetes said, “Diabetes is caused as a lack of nutrition to the Mamsa (muscle), Meda (fat), Asthi (bones), Majja (bone marrow) and Shukea (sperm or egg).” She goes on to say that Ayurveda believes in the power of food and the digestion to break down this food “which is the essence of the digestive system and it beneficial to get nutrients” to the body.
Diabetes and Male Infertility
One-third of the infertility issues are diagnosed in men. Though there are many reasons attributed to the causes of infertility in men, unchecked blood glucose levels in the body may give rise to fertility issues and when it goes unchecked, it can further aggravate the infertility in men. Though it hasn’t been much talked about, sugar and male infertility is one strong reason to explore.
Can Diabetes Cause Infertility In Men?
Due to the high glucose level, there are several bodily disorders that arise which cause men to face infertility issues.
- The DNA of the sperm may be damaged due to the high glucose level that may lead to the natural death of the sperms, thereby making it difficult for the spouse to become pregnant.
- Diabetes can also lower the sexual drive in men by lowering the level of testosterone present in the body.
- Retrograde Ejaculation is another major effect because of diabetes. By Retrograde Ejaculation, men would not be able to perform a full-fledged ejaculation of sperms which results in the semen going back into the bladder instead of being ejaculated normally during sex. In these cases, though the sperm count may look healthy, the ejaculated sperm count is lesser and therefore this decreases the chances of pregnancy.
- Due to the high glucose level, the nerves and blood vessels can’t be controlled properly because of which it leads to erectile dysfunction and may further lead to impotence.
Diabetes And Female Infertility
Diabetes in women is found to lower the rate of infertility and cause severe infertility problems that are majorly associated with menopause. Some of the infertility experts are now seeing this as one of the reasons that could be behind the unexplained infertility cases.
How Does Diabetes Affect Fertility In Women?
- Diabetes causes Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) by which a large number of cysts are developed on the ovaries. It also leads to irregular periods and increase the amount of testosterone produced in the body thereby reducing the fertility rate. PCOS is majorly found in women who have type 2 diabetes although women with type 1 diabetes who have insulin regularly are also prone to it.
- Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are associated with irregular periods (Oligomenorrhea) and absence of period (Secondary amenorrhea). In case of absence of periods, women may have normal periods after which there will be a stop in getting periods for 6 months or so. These may also be directly associated with PCOS or with acute levels of obesity.
- Premature menopause is one among the effects that type 2 diabetes can cause. By premature menopause, women may reach the stage of menopause before the age of 40. Diabetes may also cause other menstrual problems in addition to premature menopause like hypothyroidism and Addison’s disease.
- In some cases, diabetes may not prevent the woman from getting pregnant, but it may prevent the embryo from implanting in the uterus causing miscarriages. High glucose level can increase the miscarriages by 30 to 60%.
- Even if a woman is able to conceive and give birth, there is an increased risk of birth defects, due to high blood glucose level and an increased risk of gestational diabetes in the mother which can affect both her and her baby. When talking about gestational diabetes, Dr. Deepti Varma said, “Most of the women suffer from gestational diabetes from around 28 weeks of their pregnancy. All the hormones that are released during pregnancy are all anti-diabetic hormones, they have high chances to cause diabetes. Anyways, during pregnancy one’s sugar level increases normally and people generally consider it normal. But when the baby is born from a mother having gestational diabetes, it leads to a birth of a very large-sized baby of almost 4.5 kg.”
How To Break The Fatal Relationship Between Diabetes and Infertility
Solutions For Infertility In Men Caused Due To Diabetes
The foremost thing that one needs to keep in mind is to check the blood glucose levels. There are certain medications that improve the blood flow to reproductive organs and helps in strengthening the nerves that will reduce the incidents of erectile dysfunction. Also, in cases of retrograde ejaculation, there are medicines that help in tightening the bladder muscles to direct the ejaculated sperms to move forward in the right direction and prevent it from going back in.
In men who are suffering from low sexual drive, selective estrogen receptor modulators can be used to increase the amount of testosterone produced in the body.
Men who are obese will need to control and reduce the weight to reduce the blood glucose levels in the body. IVF or ART treatments can also be performed in case when the male is unable to recover from the fertility issues which originated due to diabetes.
Dr. Deepti Varma, Nutritionist says, ” Apart from helping a person to regulate their diet, we also stress the importance on sleeping rightly. As infertility issues are largely based on hormones, sleep at 10 PM.” She also adds that smoking and drinking is a big no-no during such treatments and is one major cause of infertility in both males and females.
Solutions For Infertility In Women Caused Due To Diabetes
Women who are obese can start with reducing their weight and make lifestyle changes accordingly. There are a few medications to increase the chances of conception for those who are suffering from PCOS which may help them to get pregnant.
One can start controlling their sugar levels at least 3 to months before one wants to try for pregnancy. For those with type 1 diabetes, it is generally recommended to go for daily injections to increase insulin, but it may cause harmful effects to the mother and her baby if she gets conceived. Therefore, it is best to look for alternate medications to increase insulin level in the body without going for the daily injections.
For women, diet control and physical exercises are the most prominent ways to control their blood glucose levels.
About the proper diet for people suffering from infertility due to diabetes, Dr. Deepti Varma said, “We recommend high fiber diet with a low glycemic index food. All fruits and vegetables come under this and for the moment, we ask them to stick with only vegetarian food as non-vegetarian food doesn’t have any fibers.”
Dr. Deepti Varma adds, “Most of the time, a patient doesn’t consult a nutritionist and the doctors usually say generic things like go for a walk but actually, there are other ways to do that too. We try and integrate physical activity into their lifestyle and recommend what works for them.”
Therefore it is best to consult a nutritionist when you taking measures to keep your sugar levels on check.
Is It Safe To Get Pregnant When One Has Diabetes?
It is advisable to first get the diabetes under control before trying to conceive else it may harm the baby. There are good chances of controlling your blood glucose level and it is better to consult a fertility specialist about the risks associated with conceiving with your current stage of diabetes.
Fortunately, there is also other fertility treatments like IVF that can help you conceive in spite of the fertility issues. Though it may not be recommended to all, you can consult with the fertility specialist and check for alternate methods to get pregnant.
Are you from diabetes and infertility? What helped you to get it under control?Tags: diabetes diabetes and infertility female infertility fertility Gestational Diabetes Infertility infertility tests IVF Male infertility miscarriage