Diabetes & Infertility

Diabetes and infertility – a connection

One of the questions that most concerns women with diabetes is whether they will be able to have children. There is evidence that insulin-dependent diabetes reduces fertility in women. The onset of the first period is delayed and the age at which women reach menopause is brought forward by a slight premature aging of the ovaries. The latter is more important in terms of fertility. Data show that menopause occurs 2-3 years earlier in these women than in women without diabetes. Furthermore, insulin deficiency and elevated blood glucose levels may interfere with the normal functioning of the reproductive system. It is a fact that 20-40% of women with insulin-dependent diabetes have irregular menstrual periods. Polycystic ovary syndrome is associated with insulin-dependent diabetes, and it is estimated that 10% of these women have the syndrome.

Important to know

All these factors have a significant impact on the choice of fertility treatment. Therefore, a consultation on this topic should be arranged as early as possible. The drugs used to stimulate the ovaries do not affect glucose levels. However, in cases where IVF treatment is ultimately chosen, it is recommended that only one embryo be transferred to avoid multiple pregnancies.

Gestational diabetes

Another type of diabetes is gestational diabetes, which can develop during pregnancy in women who do not already have diabetes. Diabetes (type I, II, or gestational diabetes) can affect the health of both the mother and her unborn child. Poor blood sugar control during pregnancy increases the risk of a high birth weight baby, cesarean section, preeclampsia, and hypoglycemia in the newborn.

Diabetes in men and the influence on fertility

Diabetes mellitus can also affect male fertility. It can damage blood vessels and nerves and increase the risk of infection, especially if it is not well controlled. As a result, diabetes is associated with a number of social problems, such as erectile dysfunction, decreased libido, ejaculation problems, and inflammation of the foreskin (balanitis). It is already known that high blood sugar can affect fertility in diabetic men. These men have higher levels of DNA damage in sperm, are more likely to have unexplained azoospermia, lower testosterone levels, and greater disruption of other fertility hormones compared to men without diabetes.

In patients with diabetes mellitus, oxidative stress in the testes appears to be particularly increased. This can lead to significant impairment of testicular function. Hormonal imbalance as well as harmful oxidative factors inhibit normal spermatogenesis. The result is a lower number of healthy sperm that can fertilize an egg. Supplementation with antioxidants can reduce the negative effects of diabetes.

Your fertility expert

The article was provided by Giorgos Chorozoglou, MD, MSc.

Our philosophy at Newlife is that our patients’ needs and desires are our priority. At Newlife, we strive to provide quality care before and after treatment.

Giorgos Chorozoglou, MD, MSc
Giorgos Chorozoglou, MD, MSc

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