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How Diabetes Affects Male & Female Fertility

November 28, 2017
By The Fertility Experts of IVF FLORIDA

Over 30 million Americans are currently living with diabetes, with another 84 million at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is to blame for a variety of health problems such as blindness, nerve damage, and kidney disease – as well as fertility issues for both genders. For National Diabetes Month, the fertility experts of IVF FLORIDA are here to provide you with more information on how diabetes doesn’t just affect your general health, but your reproductive health as well.

How Diabetes Can Impact Female Fertility…

Women who have diabetes are also at a greater risk of having issues with conceiving.  There are many factors that can contribute to lower rates of fertility: obesity, being underweight, having diabetic complications, having PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), or having an autoimmune disease.  The following conditions are associated with diabetes in women and generally lead to reduced fertility rates:

  • PCOS – This is a common condition in which a large number of cysts develop on the ovaries and can affect fertility by leading to irregular or absent periods.  PCOS is largely associated with type 2 diabetes and obesity.
  • Irregular or absent periods – Periods are considered irregular when they arrive at intervals of 35 days or more between cycles.  Periods are considered absent when a woman previously had a normal cycle but stopped getting a period for 6 months or longer.
  • Premature menopause – Primarily associated with type 1 diabetes, premature menopause is defined as when a woman stops getting a period prior to the age of 40.
  • Endometrial cancer (uterine cancer) – This disease is more common in women with type 2 diabetes and PCOS and can lead to infertility if not treated at an early stage.
  • Microvascular and cardiovascular complications – Studies show that women with type 1 diabetes who experience microvascular or cardiovascular complications have much lower rates of fertility.

How Diabetes Can Impact Male Fertility…

In the United States, 3 out of every 1,000 reproductive-aged men (18 to 45 years old) are living with diabetes. This number is significant because not only are these men living with a high risk of cardiovascular, renal, ophthalmologic, and neurologic issues, but they also are at a higher risk for having fertility issues.  Diabetes can have several effects on male fertility such as:

  • Erectile dysfunction - Damage to the nerves due to diabetes can cause decreased sensation and arousal, and therefore, the decreased blood flow to the penis can lead to difficulty in maintaining an erection.
  • Ejaculatory dysfunction – Long-standing damage to the nerves can cause a failure of the mechanism that propels sperm forward.  At times, sperm can go back into the bladder instead of out through the penis (retrograde ejaculation).  In other instances, there is a complete lack of ejaculation (anejaculation).
  • Semen abnormalities – Men who suffer from diabetes often have a higher risk of sperm abnormalities such as a decreased sperm count, poor motility, increased number in abnormal sperm shape, and a decrease in sperm DNA integrity.

While diabetes can drastically decrease an individual’s fertility, diabetic individuals are still able to conceive so long as the diabetes is well controlled and a healthy body weight is maintained.

If you or your partner has diabetes and there are concerns about fertility, the experts at IVF FLORIDA can help.  For more information or to schedule a consultation with one of our top fertility specialists at any of our South Florida infertility clinics, please call 866.770.2168.


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