In healthy people, the hormone insulin is released by the pancreas, a gland present in the abdomen. This hormone regulates the levels of blood sugar. When levels of blood sugar are not appropriately controlled and become too high this is called as ‘hyperglycemia’ and are diagnosed as diabetes mellitus. Unhealthy food habits lead to weight gain and obesity, insulin resistance which in turn causes both diabetes and predisposes to infertility.
When diabetes is left unattended it can affect your chances of getting pregnant and also the health of the pregnancy when pregnant. Risks of miscarriage, C-section, still births, foetal growth issues, and need for neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) are all higher in diabetic pregnancies. Babies of fathers with type 1 diabetes are at an increased risk of developing type 1 diabetes. It is heartening to know that diabetic fathers do not produce more malformed children than nondiabetics, only the general genetic remains as for anybody else. Diabetes in men too can majorly wreak havoc with their fertility and hamper a chance of having a baby.
Pre-diabetes and diabetes are more predominant in men than in women and the incidence is rising. This is becoming a huge concern for fertility doctors. Uncontrolled diabetes is associated with increased risk of sperm DNA damage resulting in higher risk of miscarriage. Even when there is good control of the condition this risk remains higher than in non-diabetics. Semen parameters like sperm motility tends to be poorer in diabetics and abnormal sperm forms tend to be higher. Diabetes is usually associated with obesity; this contributes to lower testosterone levels and loss of libido (sex drive), thus, reducing the frequency of intercourse and chances of conception. Diabetes is associated with nerve damage and also damage to blood vessels. This results in a host of sexual issues encompassing erectile dysfunction and ejaculation issues further hampering fertility. Diabetics due to the high sugar levels are more prone to infections in general. Infection, swelling and tenderness of the foreskin also known as ‘balanitis’ makes it painful to have intercourse and affects fertility.
The good news is diabetes can be effectively managed to regulate blood sugar levels. This comprises of regularly checking your levels, consuming a healthy diet, engaging in steady physical activity, consistently staying in the healthy weight range, meditation, and relaxation techniques to reduce tension and anxiety, and quitting smoking and alcohol. Your health care provider may also suggest some medications if required. Well monitored blood sugar levels can lessen the risk of all the issues enumerated above.
Preferably, diabetes should be well under control for around three months before you start actively trying. This will reduce the diabetes-related risks of pregnancy. Meet your general practitioners (GP) or diabetes specialist as soon as you consider starting a family. When pregnancy does occur, it is best to consult a doctor as soon as you find out that you are pregnant, so that the required care can be taken.
A lot is talked about diabetes and obesity together causing problems with fertility. A healthy diet, regular exercising, and regular checks for diabetic control will vastly improve reproductive outcomes.